Saturday, November 30, 2013

"Yé-Yé Girls Of '60's French Pop" by Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe

Feral House ISBN 978-1-936239-71-9

The mysterious and always foreign world of the French Yé-Yé  music scene.  Without a doubt the book I published "Gainsbourg the Biography" by Gilles Verlant is the best book in English regarding not only the Yé-Yé movement, but also the entire French music world.  The second book to get (in English) is Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe's "Yé-Yé Girls Of 60's French Pop."  This is a very good guide to the singers, the record labels, and the artists/songwriters that wrote the songs for this particular market.  It is basically teenage music, but mostly written by older men, for instance Serge Gainsbourg.  But beyond that it is a fascinating sub-culture to fish in, because the music, overall, is a the very least super interesting, and at its best- excellent records.

There are those who are the queens of their field - France Gall, Françoise Hardy, and Sylvie Vartan and then there are various (actually many many ) one-hit wonders, who also made great records as well.  In France, the arranger as well as the songwriter are part of the magic that makes a great record. Usually I check out who the arranger is, and then my money quickly goes to that release, especially if it is someone like Jean-Claude Vannier, who did a lot of classic recordings with Gainsbourg.  His touch of genius always shows up no matter who the artist or singer is - so it is very much like following your favorite record producer - or am I the only one who buys records due to the production credits?

Deluxe's book, which is also well-illustrated with both ads from the '60's as well as the original  record covers, pretty much covers the basics as well as the odd releases that came out of this scene.  So for sure its a good guide to have on your side of the table as one explores YouTube footage or online shops.  He also covers current music figures like April March, who is fantastic by the way, and others who were influenced by the 60's scene.  I think he could avoid a lot of the bands/artists, and just focus on the 60's artists, but that is a very small criticism.  This book is designed for the beginner who is looking for hardcore information or names to get their listening habits in order.   So yeah I highly recommend this book as a beginner's guide and if you want to get deeper into the subject do get the Verlant Gainsbourg biography.

Victoire Scott - Une Fleur Dans Le Coeur

Reading the book "Yé-Yé Girls of 60's French Pop Music" by Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe and he comes up with some obscure artists from the era of the Yé-Yé.  Victorire Scott is even obscure in her country!  Yet, a very interesting record.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Serge Gainsbourg Display at Book Soup

Photo by Zoie Matthew

Many thanks to Zoie Matthew and the staff at Book Soup for putting up a display of books regarding Serge Gainsbourg.   Also note, that Book Soup has sign copies of "Gainsbourg" by Gilles Verlant for sale.  The world of Serge is a rich one, so do enjoy.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"Pirates And Farmers" by Dave Hickey

Ridinghouse distributed by Ram ISBN 97801-905464-72-2
For many art is a messy and dangerous landscape to travel on, but with Dave Hickey as your driver or guide, it can be a total joy.   "Pirates and Farmers" is a collection of essays about aesthetics and how one perceives a work of art when it is in front of your eyes, ears, and brain.  The beauty of Hickey's essays is that he places himself as the narrator (of course) so he's very much a character in his own stories.  But every essay here is about confronting one's taste and how you develop that taste into a fine tool of expression or appreciation.  

He writes about his home (or it was his home)  Las Vegas in a very compelling light.  There is nothing ironic about his taste for that town.  He loves the bars, the gambling, the architecture, the weather, and everything else except for the traffic.  He even likes the airport there.   He doesn't even know why anyone needs to defend or condemn the place.  Las Vegas is it, and that is pretty much how he looks at art as well.  

What surprises me as a bookseller one time,  that he never went to a bigger press for his collection of essays.  Which is wonderful, because one small presses rule, and two, his books are nicely designed, including this one.   So the book itself is an object of beauty or aesthetic to the very core of one's thoughts on that subject matter.  Hickey is an interesting guy who writes about and thinks about 'taste.'   He's probably one of the great (and popular) thinkers regarding the fine art planet.  This book may not be the easiest to fine, but worth the journey to find it.  Distributed by Ram, if your favorite store doesn't have it, they can order it through that distributor.  But do get it. 

Semina 1955-1964 Art Is Love Is Good exhibition at Boo-Hooray

Semina 1955-1964 Art Is Love Is God
Boo-Hooray265 Canal Street, 6th floorNew York, NY 10013
Sunday, December 8 - Thursday, January 9
RSVP for the opening party Sunday December 8, 3PM-6PM
John Zorn will be performing live.Do not miss!
Pre-order the limited edition catalogue at the special price of $65 at the Boo-Hooray Web Shop
On December 8 2013, through January 9 2014, Boo-Hooray is exhibiting all components of all nine issues of Wallace Berman’s art/assemblage/beat zine Semina, alongside related ephemera, posters and mail-art. Semina bridges appropriation, fine printing, punk-style DIY and collage/montage, this already in the late 1950s!
Michael McClure called it “a scrapbook of the spirit”. Outside of commerce, Semina was sent through the mail to Wallace Berman’s friends like David Meltzer, William S. Burroughs, Alexander Trocchi, Allen Ginsberg, and Cameron. The components of Semina were not only submitted, but appropriated from these friends, alongside personal heroes like W. B. Yeats, Hermann Hesse, and Antonin Artaud.
Hand-printed on a table-top at his house, this free-form zine with its loose-leaf poetry and amazing collages, montages and photography, is also most baffling in its vanguard status: nobody had done anything like this before Berman, not even in the days of dada.
Published between 1955 and 1964 in editions ranging from 150 to 350 copies, this rare publication (original issues regularly sell in the five figures) needs to be seen and cherished by anyone interested in American post-war art.
Michael Duncan points out that “Semina’s overarching theme involved a search for how to transcend the ‘monster’ of postwar meaninglessness.
The spirit of Semina’s assemblage will feel familiar to anybody who has ever stayed up late at night at a copy shop making a punk zine or flyer. The hypnotic and delicious feel of perusing the poetry and imagery is the closest I’ve gotten to capturing those fleeting moments when one remembers components of a distant dream.
On December 8th, Boo-Hooray is publishing Semina 1955-1964 Art Is Love Is God, a 174 page softbound full-color catalogue reproducing each component of each issue of Semina. The catalogue comes with a booklet of annotations and texts by Johan Kugelberg, Adam Davis, Tosh Berman, Shirley Berman, Philip Aarons and Andrew Roth alongside silkscreened artwork, photo prints, flyers and cards, all printed loose-leaf and contained in a pocket on the back board of the catalogue in the spirit of Wallace Berman’s original publication.
This publication is limited to 300 copies and is only available from Boo-Hooray.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Beatles "White Album" Seen Through The Eyes and Ears of Rutherford Chang

"The Beatles: White Album" by Rutherford Chang

About six months ago a friend of mine sent me a link regarding the artist Rutherford Chang and his project of documenting and collecting versions of the album “The Beatles” better known to the world as the “White Album.”   Chang has around 900 copies of the album, and as an exhibition he had a pop-up store of sorts in Soho New York, where he had a record store that only exhibited the “White Album.”   Some may find the concept humorous but I was almost moved to tears when I saw the images of this exhibition.  It made me think of the importance of the record store, and of course The Beatles themselves.  Specifically the importance of the “White Album.”

Chang took the next step and made a vinyl release of “The Beatles” which is the album overlaid 100 times.   Even the famous iconic album cover and packaging is overlaid many times over from previous covers over the years.   But how does this work as a listening experience.  Well, I have the album, and it’s a masterpiece.

First of all the album itself is beautiful.  The cover at first looks like the White Album, but re-done by some lunatic with an ink pen.  But then you realize the overlaid aspect of the cover and this is sort of a Frankenstein monster, where all the parts become something new yet familiar.  The album comes with a glossy poster of 100 White Album covers, which is worth the price alone for this incredible package.

One would think that the sound would be totally chaos, but alas, it is actually a meditative work of superb beauty.   The album works on so many levels.  There is the layer physical aspect of having this album in your hands and admiring the artwork.  It is both a tribute to the original source as well as seeing how art can move on from its source intro something else. That is part one of the enjoyment, the other big part is the sounds itself.

The layering of 100 recordings being roughly played at the same time makes this a dreamy utopia.  The vinyl sound of the needle and the clicks itself are so human and beautiful, then you hear something like Eric Clapton’s solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and it takes one into a blissful state.  Due to the delay there are no tracks between the songs, it is all one piece and the sheets of sound that comes up time-to-time is amazing.  “Helter Skelter” instead of being this harsh rocker, becomes a sonic wave hitting the beach and returning back to the ocean.  “Bluebird” which has a beautiful melody keeps that intact, but the textural aspect of the song comes out like you are underwater listening to music. 

Right now I have to imagine that this album won’t be around forever, but surely the remaining members of The Beatles as well as the estate surrounding the fab four (especially Yoko) will realize that Chang made an incredible tribute to their music, yet it goes beyond that.   This is the most impressive album I have seen or heard this year — or decade so far.  You can hear side one  on Sound-cloud, but even that, it doesn’t capture the beauty of this vinyl on your turntable producing these incredible sounds for your ears and yes, eyes as well.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

"BTW" By Jarett Kobek

Penny-Ante Editions ISBN: 978-0-9855085-6-2
I like books that are about books and its readers, and Jarett Kobek's novel is very much in that it's a love of literature filtered through the narration of sort-of young people in love within the  magnificent landscape, that is Los Angeles.  Or perhaps they're not in love, but individuals struggling to communicate or at the very least to articulate their unhappiness among the streets of Los Angeles. 

There is a strong situationist aspect with respect to the understanding of a city by the way of  the main character's dealings with his placement in Los Angeles and how the others fit in the landscape as well.  It is a very nice readable cocktail  of thought, action, and looking at the world through Victorian literature among other things. 

The one figure that stands out in this narrative is the father of the main character, who is profound and hysterical at the same time.  Also his advice is quite good, considering that he sees the world in a very specific light.  The relationship between son and father is pretty solid, but of course there are many bumps on the road that disrupts the two.  Jarett Kobek previous two books "If You Won't Read, Then Why Should I Write?" and "ATTA"  were major reads for me this year, and "BTW" easily follows in that grouping.   Ah good times.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Red Grass" by Boris Vian is OUT In The Stores

ISBN: 9780966234695  $15.95

Boris Vian's RED GRASS is released in the world and should be in your favorite local bookstore as well as online shopping.   If your store doesn't have RED GRASS it is easy for them to special order for you.  

Here are some of the blurbs:

Hypnotic, odd and romantic: Vian's angst masterpiece could replace Smiths records at your house.  A worthy antidote to "I Spit On Your Graves."

- Johan Kugelberg / Sinecure Books

A talking do.  A  machine that allows its user to travel the path of his fourth-dimensional arc.  An animistic universe where the only unachievable act is a meaningful sexual embrace and the only unsustainable emotion is romantic love.  RED GRASS rotates on its own axis, an outrageous psychological novel of the 1940s that thematically anticipates and out does the best writers of Science Fiction's New Wave.  Finally, an English translation.

- Jarett Kobek, author of "ATTA," AND "If You Won't Read, Then Why Should I Write?"

This brilliant new translation of RED GRASS is by turns humanistic and nihilistic, experimental and realist, startlingly, lucid and entertainingly blind.  A subversive, steampunk meditation on time and memory; a picturesque pressure-cooker of a sequel to Jules Verne's lost novel "Paris in the Twentieth Century."   Vian published nearly thirty books, but this little sic-fi jewel proves why he is a cult hero among discriminating cyberpunkers. Makes Philip K. Dick read like an amateur New Age hippie trying to sound avant-garde.

- Maxi Kim, author of "One Break, A Thousand Blows!"

The book is translated from French to English by Paul Knobloch.  And the book is designed by Mark Holley.  Published by TamTam Books.

TamTam Books at the Hotel Normandie

Not all, but here are some of my books that I have produced for TamTam Books, as well as a book I wrote "Sparks-Tastic."   For those who stay at the Hotel Normandie in Los Angeles, you can check these titles out for your reading pleasure.   Many thanks to Barbara Ann Duffy!

For Hotel Normandie information:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Support Bomb Magazine and Website

Bomb Magazine has been consistently interesting with respect to writers, musicians, the visual arts, and etc. and etc. Great publication and website - they now need some support. If you can, do it!

Since 1981, BOMB Magazine has been publishing conversations between artists. In the first week of December we’re launching a new website, where BOMB's 32 years of interviews, essays, literature, and portfolios will be more accessible and more sharable than ever. They'll also, like all our content, be available for free.

Today, BOMB is a quarterly print magazine and a daily online publication. Every day on BOMB's website, artists interact to expand their creative and critical practice. But we need your help to keep the conversation going. ​We’re raising money so that we can pay our online contributors and editors, whose work is crucial to bringing you the artist's voice.

We want to keep giving artists a platform for discussion, and we want to keep making their work available to you—for free. We've put together a package of rewards to show our appreciation. And remember: BOMB is a not-for-profit 501c3, so your contribution is tax deductible.
The first 150 people to donate $25 or more will receive a ticket to the BOMB Benefit Party at Issue Project Room on January 11th, featuring David Grubbs, Amy Sillman, Ben Lerner, and Jules Gimbrone.
☆ Raymond Pettibon has generously donated a work specifically for this fundraiser that will be featured on a limited edition BOMB tote bag. ☆

Donate in a loved one's name by December 15th, and they’ll get their rewards in the mail as a holiday gift.