Sasha Frere-Jones

  • Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger of Neu! with friends, Ratingen, Germany, 1972. Photo: Peter Lindbergh.

    MACHINE LEARNING

    WE MUST FORGIVE OTHERS for the terrible things they do, especially when love takes them to the brink. If you have never heard the first Neu! album, you might find yourself babbling about this music. “It’s so peaceful and alive, and it’s noisy but in this benevolent way, and all of these things happen even though it’s mostly just drums and guitar,” and then you get so excited you say, “This is real Krautrock,” even though you’re not sure you should be using that phrase, but you’ve heard other people say it, and what are you even comparing it to? And then you call the drumming “motorik” because

  • Eiko Ishibashi. [A color photograph of a person in a pointed hat with a wide brim, wearing a black-and-white robe. The person is pictured amid tree branches and vines that block their face. They hold a twisted vine in their left hand.]
    interviews June 06, 2022

    Eiko Ishibashi

    Composer and multi-instrumentalist Eiko Ishibashi began her career in the ’90s, playing in bands like Panicsmile, but it was her 2008 record Drifting Devil that brought her to wider critical attention. Since then, she’s been releasing recordings that map a broad but connected series of practices: song albums like Carapace (2011) and The Dream My Bones Dream (2018), and movie scores, most recently for the Oscar-winning Drive My Car. Using a variety of instruments, field recordings and electronic generations and interventions, she creates aural spaces that feel physically real, both haunted and

  • Éliane Radigue in her studio, Paris, 1971. Photo: Yves Arman. © Fondation A.R.M.A.N. 

    UNSETTLING THE SCORE

    “I ONLY HAVE ONE TRICK,” Éliane Radigue told me a few years ago. “It is the cross-fade!” She pulled her fingers apart as if stretching taffy and laughed. She was sitting on the couch in her apartment on rue Liancourt in Paris. Athena, con una Espada (Athena, as a Sword), a bronze sculpture by the late artist Arman, to whom Radigue was married from the 1950s until the late ’60s, stood by the wall. For decades, Athena shared the premises with an ARP 2500 synthesizer and a pair of huge Altec Voice of the Theatre speakers. Shortly after the turn of the millennium, though, they were packed away. What

  • King Crimson, 2021. Photo: David Singleton.
    music October 01, 2021

    Watch the Throne

    IN NOVEMBER OF 1974, Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood, and Bernie Rhodes collaborated on a T-shirt printed with two columns of text: a list of “hates” alongside a list of “loves.” As reported in Jon Savage’s 2002 book England’s Dreaming, those hates included Yes, ELP., and Bryan Ferry. The loves included “sex professionals, renegade artists, hard Rockers, IRA terrorists, working-class heroes and, well hidden, the first printed mention of ‘Kutie Jones and his SEX PISTOLS.’”

    Those two columns were the shadow commandments of New York critics for decades, and it would not be wrong to lump King

  • Ryuichi Sakamoto and Shiro Takatani, Time, 2021. Gashouder Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam. Min Tanaka. Photo: Sanne Peper.
    performance July 15, 2021

    This Is Water

    OUR LANGUAGE for physically slow performance has been tainted by the residue of familiar associations. Sidecar words like “delicate” and “calm” attach themselves to descriptions of performances just because they’re filled with only a handful of events. Time, created by composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and Shiro Takatani, artist and founder of Dumb Type, moves slowly, yes, but it is inflamed, an emotional flaying at a snail’s pace, a psychic oven walled with black glass and set to a steady 200 degrees. For almost 70 minutes, Min Tanaka, a dancer trained in the improvisational Butoh style, moves in and

  • Tiril Hasselknippe, Bykjernens Soldans (Solar Dance of City Kernel), 2019, steel, resin. Installation view.

    Tiril Hasselknippe

    The New York–based Norwegian artist Tiril Hasselknippe channeled the apocalyptic doom that pervades our awful present in “Braut” (Bride), her solo exhibition at Magenta Plains. Two hulking sculptures—which looked like salvaged monuments to lost causes, or chunks of destroyed architecture rescued from fallen cities—suggested that the past, present, and future all collapsed into the space we were standing in. Hasselknippe’s ruins listen, remember, and speak.

    The show radiated lost urban optimism—the kind of broken spirit that’s palpable in a place such as New York, where three centuries of misery

  • Manfred Eicher and Arvo Pärt. Photo: Roberto Masotti / ECM.
    music January 17, 2020

    Private Label

    IN 2019, WARP RECORDS TURNED THIRTY AND EDITIONS OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC (ECM) HIT FIFTY. The connection felt superficial, and then it didn’t, though I couldn’t immediately figure out why. Both of these independent labels have seeded the air for decades. They didn’t cash in, scale up, and abandon what made them good, like Atlantic and Def Jam and other indies before them. ECM and Warp both stuck to the daily grind of personal relationships, careful record-making, and consistent business practices. This isn’t to say that the two present as similar: ECM generally puts out albums created in real time

  • Unsound Festival. Knockdown Center, Queens, New York, 2019. Photo: Zach Lichtstrahl.
    music December 15, 2019

    Pyre Festival

    WHAT IS A MUSIC FESTIVAL? Is it like a label, an overarching and visible marker of taste? Is it like group therapy, a way to guide and protect fellow souls? Is it a big money laundering scheme? The Kraków-based, internationally present Unsound offers some answers.

    Amazon is trying to artwash its hegemonic skid marks by funding a new festival called Intersect, slated to launch in Las Vegas this December with Beck, Kacey Musgraves, and dozens of other acts. Coachella soldiers on in the California desert every April, providing ever-shifting backdrops for TikTok tutorials and impromptu influencer

  • Key Hiraga, The Elegant Life of Mr. H, 1970, oil on canvas, 17 7⁄8 × 15".

    Key Hiraga

    In the work of Key Hiraga (1936–2000), which slid from black line drawings into barking Day-Glo paintings, the human body is the key. Hiraga, who was raised outside of Tokyo, might have been under Dubuffet’s sway—particularly in how the Frenchman rendered his famous tomato-splat heads and bodies of the 1950s. By the mid-’60s, Hiraga’s paintings became less illustrative. And in 1967, he developed a character: a small man with a bowler hat and Brobdingnagian penis who often appears floating around worlds dominated by ecstatic colors and patterns. The figure is like a Japanese analogue to cartoonist

  • Haley Hughes, Just because it’s not happening here doesn’t mean it’s not happening, 2014, oil on canvas, 56 × 72". From “MAD.”

    “MAD”

    “MAD,” a group exhibition at Assembly Room that featured the work of women artists, cohered around anger, or at least the idea of it. Per Angela Conant, who organized the show, anger “spreads easily from one susceptible entity to another,” like fire. The gallery is run by women and holds monthly meetings to bring female-identifying curators together. Yet the disparate works in the tiny Henry Street space weren’t only chosen according to theme; they were united by a low and reliable force: more blood than flame.

    In all three of Haley Hughes’s oil paintings, fire was both a character and a force.

  • David Hockney, Two Boys Aged 23 or 24, 1966, etching and aquatint on paper, 13 7⁄8 × 8 7⁄8".

    David Hockney and James Scott

    In 1966, only four years out of the Royal College of Art in London, David Hockney was already a star. James Scott, a contemporary of Hockney’s, had received acclaim for short films he’d made with actors such as Drewe Henley and Anthony Hopkins. Scott wanted to make a documentary, something with an artist, so he asked Hockney, who agreed. Scott’s twenty-seven-minute film, Love’s Presentation, 1966, was the centerpiece of this exhibition at the Anita Rogers Gallery; the show also featured Hockney’s “Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C. P. Cavafy,” 1966, the etchings at the core of Scott’s

  • Cover of Patty Waters's Live (Blank Forms Editions, 2019).
    music September 23, 2019

    Standard Deviation

    HOW WOULD YOU SING, if you wanted to sing? Would you want to sound alluring, get the kids to swooning? Patty Waters, at the age of seventy-three, has her own answers to these questions, and few of them are immediately apparent. Dubbed “Priestess of the Avant-Garde” by JazzTimes, Waters grew up in Iowa, then moved, while in her teens, to San Francisco and eventually to New York, all to pursue her singing career. She now lives in California, as she has for decades.

    Waters is best known for two albums released on ESP-Disk in 1966—Sings, a studio album, and College Tour, a compilation of live