Hot on the heels (or rather casually surfing behind) the success of psychedelic pop acts like MGMT, Animal Collective and long dormant sample-masters The Avalanches comes this new wave of blissed out artists with an affection for skewed pop-music and windswept psychdelica. Already the victim of a host of silly genre names – including no-fi, dreamwave and the piss-taking chillgaze – the emergence of this scene has been dominated by the likes of Washed Out, Emil & Friends and unquestionably, mystery-clad US duo Neon Indian.
The brainchild of former Ghosthustler and current VEGA mainman Alan Palomo, Neon Indian have already kicked up whirlwind of hype in their relatively short career and it’s easy to see why. With their debut LP, the appropriately named Psychic Chasms, Neon Indian successfully build this sprawling, psychedelic landscape of misshapen samples and bottomed-out synthesizers that feels like the perfect mixtape for a spontaneous cross-country roadtrip, twisting and turning through desert roads and star-clad night skies.
Whatever we’re calling this genre it is all sorts of fantastic. – Dave Ruby Howe
A new permanent exhibition, LEVEL GREEN, dealing with the complex topics of car manufacturing, sustainability and the use of global resources, opened last month at the Autostadt (Car city in German), near the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburgh, Germany.
The architectural firm of J. Mayer H. of Berlin and interactive an digital media specialists, Art+Com Berlin, developed the concept for the 1,000 m2 interactive exhibition. The themes of the exhibition — Personal use, Sustainability at Volkswagen, The three aspects of sustainability, Mobility of the future, Sustainability and the economy, Effects of climate change — wind their way among an organically-shaped, sustainably built web of green structures.
Established in 1994, the vast is a seven-pavilion Autostadt visitor attraction area has ultra-modern pavilions for Volkswagen, Bentley, Škoda, Lamborghini, Audi and SEAT, and draws about 2 million visitors annually. - Tuija Seipell
KAA is a magnificent example of beautiful use of space. A surprising, lush, open-air atmosphere awaits behind a windowless white stucco facade. The main restaurant is a narrow and long nearly 800 square-meter, high-ceilinged space. A massive green wall with more than 7,000 live plants, a retractable roof over a section of the space, a staircase leading to a mezzanine-level lounge, and a dividing wall behind the bar, all add to the magnificent feeling of airy relaxation.
Casas has indeed reached his goal of creating an urban oasis for busy paulistas, as KAA has the distinct feel of a luxurious hotel lounge, minus the hotel.
American institute of Architecture Los Angeles chapter recently gave KAA one of its Restaurant Design awards. The 43-year-old Arthur Casas has already managed to create a successful multi-disciplinary practice that is involved in residential, commercial, corporate, retail and hospitality projects, interior design, plus product and furniture design. Expect to see his name much more frequently. - Tuija Seipell.
Pics via Leonardo Finotti
Cities grow organically, and while some areas thrive and prosper, others parts undoubtedly deteriorate over time as industry evolves, social dynamics shift and economies fluctuate. Many accomplished urban designers look at the multi-dimensionality of any city within which they work regardless of where a project is sited.
Ashton Raggatt McDougal (ARM) architects completed the design of the Melbourne Recital Center and the neighbouring Melbourne Theater Company helping to transform the formerly derelict Southbank area of the city to the dynamic district it has now become. The firm has been so successful in their designs of the two buildings that they have been honored with the 2009 Victorian Architecture Medal winning highest accolades in three categories for public architecture, interior design as well as urban design.
In a country where the two largest cities compete for just about everything, is Melbourne set to de-thrown Sydney for a higher quality performance space? Granted we’re not here to critique Utzon’s Opera House, but we are prepared to say that ARM, in collaboration with Arup Acoustics, designed a dynamic and original 1000-seat performance space and 150-seat Salon. “The fusion of architectural and acoustic design throughout the development of Elisabeth Murdoch Hall has produced a visually and aurally exciting hall,” a designer from Arup explains. “Based on the proportions of the classic shoe-box shaped European concert hall, the geometry has been enhanced to provide greater acoustic intimacy and improved sightlines for the entire audience.”
The design for the Melbourne Theater Company begins with the dramatic façade: 3D iridescent steel tubing folds and bends against black aluminum cladding – just as an actor brings performance to life against a dark backdrop. The interior is comprised of the Sumner Theater, a 500-seat hall noticeably without a balcony or mezzanine space, but still allowing exceptional site lines to the stage regardless of where your season tickets land you. The most striking element inside the main theater is the Word Wall – 70 quotes from different plays are illuminated when the stage is dark. The building also houses a full rehearsal hall that can be used as an event space or a smaller performance space, as well as a café and bar at the front of the house. - Andrew j Wiener
Each year as the Tour de France presses on through the French countryside, our desire and envy for faster sleeker cooler bikes is reinvigorated. While the German Team Tentakulus is not preparing to train its riders to race against many of the world's best, their new Shocker bike could be highly competitive for cool. Most Shocker riders will probably never need to worry about changing gears or overtaking fellow riders on steep climbs through the Alps. Besides looking good, switching on the headlight for safe night cruising is just about the only true performance feature that comes standard on every bike. - Andrew J Wiener
There’s something uniquely Danish about Fagget Fairys; an aggressive modernity stirred to a potent beat that marks the duo (that’s MC Ena and DJ Sensimilla) as being distinctly of the Jutland, a place where political, social and artistic progressivism is the norm rather than the exception.
It’s in Feed the Horse that the duo has produced a dexterous debut album. Built on Sensimilla’s filthy, sweat-smeared bass lines, Fagget Fairys’ brand of ghetto-funk churns, pumps, wrestles and writhes. Feed the Horse is almost salacious in its intent, and you can’t help but listen without feeling either bizarrely elated or subtly violated, or perhaps just both.
“I think the album worked out in a really good way,” explains Ena in her signature elastic style, her mind occasionally tripping over her tongue in a torrent of engaging verbosity. “Everything happened at the right time, because we had our EP out last year with two tracks on it that became very popular on the music blogs, so we already had a good basis on which we could then produce. When we did the album, we did it half in New York and half in Copenhagen, so we were working in these lots of two weeks at a time, where we would go into the studio and not come out for two weeks basically.”
Perhaps the biggest coup with Feed the Horse was the recruitment of Grammy award-winning Danish producer, Rasmus Bille Bähncke. Sensimilla has plenty of experience shaking clubs across Denmark, but working with Bähncke was a whole new experience entirely.
“He’s a really, really amazing guy and I think it was a bit like love at first sight for all of us,” Sensimilla explains. “You have the perfect match personally and you have the perfect match professionally and I think he was our perfect match in a professional sense. He has a good ear for what’s catchy in the pop genre and I have a really good ear for the underground thing, so the combination on the album is really interesting I think.”
Fagget Fairys may be destroying sound systems worldwide, but they’re simply the sharpened spearhead of what’s turning out to be a gang busting groundswell in Danish popular music.
“There are so many really interesting sounds coming out of Denmark,” says Sensimilla. “I think it’s being recognised in a few places in the world that we have some strong names now and that’s really exciting!” Exciting doesn’t even begin to describe the surge in great Danish music that Fagget Fairys are leading, with a bustling and dynamic community of artists in the pack, the scene is on the verge of a musical triumph of truly epic proportions. – Matt Shea
Speaking to Elly Jackson, the flame-haired singer and focal point of UK duo La Roux, on the eve of her ascent into the realms of pop-stardom - that being the pinnacle reaches of the pop charts - is interesting in that it's an incredible achievement for an electro duo, who regardless of their enormous potential don't fit the mold of conventional chart-darlings, and also because Jackson doesn't see herself popstar yet.
"Yeah, it's very weird in a way. I never expected us to do well on the pop charts like we have done, but yeah, it's nice anyway," Elly says, referring to La Roux's two most recent singles, In For The Kill and Bulletproof, hitting number 2 and 1 on the UK pop charts. "When In For The Kill first entered the charts we were chuffed about it, but then it started to climb and it reached number 2, so we were sharing space with genuine pop stars," she explains from the back of La Roux's tour van. "I was just happy because it meant that people were listening to our music. That's the important thing."
But despite the double-act's runaway success La Roux aren't a flash in the pan, as Elly states emphatically. "A lot of people think that we've just kind of appeared over night, but that's not the case at all. We've been doing this for years. It took a couple of years of recording and writing together to find out what we liked and what we didn't like, and then last year we started taking that around to labels and people who wanted to work with. It's been a long time coming for us, so if people think we've just sprung up out of nowhere, they're wrong."
As Elly suggests, the La Roux project has been developing and gestating for a number of years before taking off. The singer explains that the years leading up to their self titled album were spent "struggling" with songs. "It started out very different to what you hear now. We were doing things in an organic kind of way. It wasn't strictly folk music, but there were a lot of acoustic instruments involved. I grew up listening to a lot of folk music so I guess that was a big influence at the time," she says fankly. "But our songs weren't working. It was difficult for us. Like, the songs were good, but there was just something that wasn't 100% right. So we took a break from things for a little while and I started listening to a lot of electronic music, a lot of synthpop and stuff. Ben ([Langmaid], the other side of La Roux) and I got together again and decided to try things out with some electronic sounds, and it just clicked. The songs finally made sense.”
La Roux by La Roux is out now. Hit the band’s website for a free download pack. - Dave Ruby Howe
Nikon took its cue from our celebrity-obsessed paparazzi culture to launch the brand's D700 model in Korea.
At a busy Seoul subway station, Nikon mounted a huge interactive, light-box billboard displaying life-like images of paparazzi. Huddled together as if at a premiere, the "paps" appear to be jostling and competing for the best celebrity snap. The celebrities in this case were the passersby, who automatically triggered a deluge of flashing camera lights as they walked past the billboard. The accidental superstars then followed the red carpet all the way out of the station and into a mall - directly into the store where they could purchase the new D700. Mission accomplished. - Lisa Evans
West Hollywood, California-based Clive Wilkinson Architects has completed many projects for California’s Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. The private college offers two-year fashion, graphics, interior design and entertainment education at four campuses Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County and San Diego.
Clive Wilkinson’s latest undertaking with the Institute was the 31,000-square-foot Sand Diego facility located on the third floor of a new, unremarkable office tower overlooking the Petco baseball park. Bold use of color defines the various functional areas of the campus, and makes dividing walls unnecessary. Glass walls are present in almost every space, which allows light to flow freely. These are all effective ways of creating openness and visual interest while avoiding the claustrophobic, square-box feel that could result, especially in the areas located farthest from the perimeter walls with windows.
Sand-tone flooring and hard, angular lines link everything together, and establish an edgy, free-flowing sense of vibrancy. Visually light-weight furniture paired with heavier blocks of seating and desks bring variety without looking pretentious. Everything seems a bit temporary, in the positive sense of the word. Softer, rounded treatments in the lounge area invite relaxation and rest.
The Cape Town and London-educated architect, Clive Wilkinson, established his office in Los Angeles in 1991. The company has since reaped awards in both interior design and architecture, completing commercial, residential and hospitality projects. One of the firm’s current assignments is the renovation of the 370,000-square-foot Nokia House in Helsinki, the headquarters of Nokia, due to be completed in 2010. - Tuija Seipell
Eclectic, electric, electrifying and energetic are words that describe the work of art director and designer Pedro Vilas-Boas. Stationed in Lisbon, the Portuguese-born Vilas Boas collaborates with a variety of complementing talent and comes up with fascinating web sites, online and offline projects, graphics, posters and even T-shirt designs for A-list clients such as Nokia and Carlsberg.
His work is characterized by a mix of contrast, electricity, motion and bold lines. The result is an effective blend of energy and punch. Lucky for his high-energy clients that Pedro Vilas-Boas chose this type of punch as his preferred medium, and did not fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a policeman. - Tuija Seipell