“Why adidas and Alexander Wang’s collab makes total sense” for DAZED

I wrote a piece for DAZED about how, in collaboration, adidas Originals and Alexander Wang have found their cultural counterparts.

Read the whole article now over at DAZED.


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Maiden Noir F/W16 — Into the Silence

A few years back, maybe 2012, I was a massive fan of Maiden Noir. After their early days making kind of ishy t-shirts that were indistinguishable from All Saints and Passarella Death Squad at the time, the Seattle-based brand seemed to find its feet creating simple, well-designed streetwear with a healthy mix of camos and motifs against black and understated colour palettes. It was basically a Norse Projects for the Pacific Northwest, and it did what it did really well.


Over the following seasons, however, everything got really shaky. Designer Nin Truong’s architectural background seemed to empower Maiden Noir to craft collections that cut through the bullshit of over-engineered product to create unassuming wardrobe staples with a touch of flare, but the other side of the blade was a series of collections between 2013 and 2015 that were so safe and lacking in character that it tasted like watered down vanilla ice cream.


As a result, Maiden Noir feels kind of like that friend of yours who’s a really talented musician but spends all his time learning to cover Megadeth songs and sharing videos on YouTube. Come on man, you’re better than this.

There was a glimmer of hope with the release of the brand’s Fall/Winter 2015 collection ‘Forever Lost’, which finally started to drag Maiden Noir out of its flavourless rut and somewhere closer to creating something new. With their latest collection for Fall/Winter 2016, ‘Into the Silence’ it seems like they’ve gone back to the basics, but the result is a collection that’s far more compelling than anything else they’ve done in recent years.


The lookbook reveals a washed-out, greyscale palette with minimal colour. Flashes of mustard and stone browns add a little flare, but for the most part it’s an understated affair. In place of colour, you have texture; jacquard knits, mohair cardigans, thermal fleece, wool trenches and glossy nylons.


One of the issues I had with even my favourite Maiden Noir collections was the cut, which often seemed to try a bit too hard to be “menswear” with tapered shirting and so on. Everything looks a bit more relaxed here, which is a relief. Rather than trying to look like a men’s clothing brand, the collection looks like some clothes a guy could wear, which I’m fully behind.


I think it’s pretty easy to identify the source material for Maiden Noir’s latest collection. On paper, they cite ‘juxtaposition of nature and the built environment’, and this certainly comes through with the use of geometric patterns and checks on super relaxed and comfortable cuts. But there’s also a touch of a particular individual quite close to the brand’s Seattle background (hint: it’s Kurt Cobain). You’d have to be trying pretty hard not to pick up on the grunge aesthetic here, and any time you see a long-haired blonde dude in washed denim and a mohair cardigan, you can put money on that being the inspiration.


That being said, these guys are Pacific-Northwesterners with a sizeable following in Japan, so I guess you’re led to believe they’re coming from a pretty authentic place, and they can create credible product with hints of a deeper cultural significance to the Japanese market, where that kind of thing is nigh-on essential.


And there’s the magic of what Maiden Noir can do when it stops over-labouring the art of being understated. This is really nice, simple, well-designed stuff that stands on its own two feet, but if you want to dig a bit deeper and think about it, you can arguably find some subtle cultural references in there. The result is a collection that doesn’t shout from the rooftops, but nonetheless emits this cool, calm 90s grunge sensation that could only come from the place where that style was born, rather than semi-informed mimicry.


On a level, I sometimes feel like Maiden Noir could be doing what Jerry Lorenzo is doing right now with Fear of God, and without the irritating pretense that I always get with the latter. Lorenzo’s work is so heavily dependent upon the symbology of others. I feel like he needs to rip off old band t-shirts and tour merchandise because he lacks the innate understanding of that culture to be able to bring the aesthetic to life himself. To the point, a lot of the guys who designed those tour t-shirts are alive and kicking, you could track them down and commission some new work, but you wouldn’t know where to begin.


Maiden Noir conjures similar images of iconic 90s music and counter-culture lifestyle in this collection, but it feels a lot more measured and tasteful. If you want to enjoy the references then do, and do so without feeling like they’re being shoved down your throat. If you don’t want to, that’s cool also, just enjoy some nice clothes. And they are nice. So enjoy them.

Maiden Noir‘s Fall/Winter 2016 collection is available now.

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Timeliness/Timelessness — My Problem with Gosha Rubchinskiy

There’s a joke by Stewart Lee on the first season of his Comedy Vehicle TV series where he laments the success of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books amongst adults, swatting away constant inquiries as to whether he’s read them with, ‘No I haven’t read them, because I’m a forty year-old man.’

A few seconds later, he directs his eyes straight into the camera and asks back, ‘You know those Harry Potter books… you know they’re for children, don’t you?’ I’ve always enjoyed that joke as an expression of those Emperor’s New Clothes moments where we find ourselves surrounded by people going crazy about something, but we just don’t get it ourselves, with or without good reason. I have it whenever I meet somebody who likes Jeff Koons, but that’s for another article. He is trash though.


And this is kind of where I am right now with Comme des Garçons’ Wunderkind of late, Gosha Rubchinskiy. At a time where the majority of people can’t get enough of him, I’ve definitely had enough. I’m really beyond the point of trying to justify or intellectualise about his stuff anymore, even less so in light of his blessing from/incorporation into the house of Kawakubo in the past few years. I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.

It’s not even like I’ve never liked his stuff. I’ve written on this blog about previous collections and been very enthusiastic about it. I was really positive about the general pricing of the product, occupying a middle ground between high and low fashion that seemed to provide something for everyone. There was a lot of unique and interesting product on show.

But recent seasons, to me at least, have really started to stink of something I haven’t quite put my finger on yet — laziness, cynicism, deception, obnoxiousness, dead horse syndrome? When I appeared on a SHOWstudio panel last year to discuss his Fall/Winter 2016 runway show, I made some comments about Rubchinskiy perhaps trying to share elements of the Russian identity on his terms, and I stand by that, but the way that the product is presented on the runway versus the product that eventually hits the shelves reveals a stark contrast that’s pretty hard to ignore.


Gosha Rubchinskiy’s designs are inherently interwoven with both the pre- and post-Soviet Union narrative of Russia. As I said on SHOWstudio, however, whilst the Iron Curtain supposedly came down at the end of the 1980s, one often gets the feeling that it’s still there in terms of culture. How much can we genuinely say we know about Russia these days, honestly? There’s tertiary glances and news reports, but how is that any different from the murmurs and rumours of the Cold War era? I’m 24, so feel free to tell me to shut the fuck up Donny, you’re out of your element.

These narratives of the Eastern Bloc, then, are so often mythologised in the hands of the West. When Gosha’s collections first started to really appear in stores at the beginning of 2015, so much of it was terribly made, poor quality, ill fitting and tacky, and people went crazy for it. There’s something about that which seems really patronising to me, and there’ll always be questions hanging over my head about whether the product was shit because that was the intended aesthetic or because CDG sent the production to Turkey to secure a decent mark-up on cheap (in the context of CDG) clothing.

My suspicions were aroused further as we went into Fall/Winter 2015, a collection that was awash with shearling jackets, wool overcoats and fleece sweats. Not actual shearling, though. Synthetic. Oh, and not real wool either. Acrylic mostly. Same with the fleece. I probably sound like a total anal pedant, and I am, but I’m pretty sure they had sheep in Soviet Russia. I don’t buy that making all the product from “cheap to the point of feeling cheap” materials is some sort of artistic statement. Vetements barely gets a pass for the commentary on capitalism in contemporary fashion that is a £600 hooded sweat, so don’t expect me to lap up £450 for a jacket that would literally melt if I sat too close to a bonfire.


I’m far from the highest authority on the politics and inner-workings of fashion. I stand by a statement I make regularly that in reality, I’m a guy that got into clothes and likes writing about them. But I have a theory about what Gosha generally is and it’s closely connected to Adrian Joffe, husband of Rei Kawakubo. As is generally known in the scene, Joffe is the guy that introduced a lot of ideas of commercialism to Comme des Garçons, and very successfully. Before Joffe, CDG did not release fragrances, as it’s a well-known fact that 99% of fashion-label fragrances are produced on license for no reason other than that the ridiculously high markup they provide and the fact that people will buy them. Fortunately, Joffe convinced CDG to do them, provided they did them in a way that was distinctly CDG. Translation; a couple ostensibly avant-garde scents to begin with, followed by business as usual. To their credit, CDG’s fragrances are for the most part made in-house, and they were one of the first fashion labels to eschew the traditional sales model by stocking their fragrances in fashion stores instead of traditional fragrance shops, which was genuinely very clever, but it still sits uneasily with me.


And so is the case with other interesting little ventures such as PLAY Comme des Garçons. It’s not that they’re not necessarily good, it’s just difficult to look at this in the context of the shining light of fashion’s Avant-Garde and then confront the transparent commercialism that created it. In the same way that CDG fragrance enabled the original rule-breaker to get in on the status quo, so too did PLAY enable CDG to sell lower tier branded t-shirts. Again, not a criticism, just a measured dose of realism about what these things actually are.

But the co-sign to Gosha really felt more extreme than those, because of the product that coupled it. It feels like Gosha is just an avenue for CDG to sell really badly-made clothing at a high markup under a gossamer-thin veil of conceptualism. I don’t buy the narrative that Soviet Russia was this hyper-impoverished sea of synthetic fabrics, fake sheep and complete obliviousness as to the basic shape of the human form. If fashion has taught me one thing, it’s that almost every culture places value and importance on things such as craft and identity.

That cynicism was brought to its head when I saw Rubchinskiy’s Spring/Summer 2017 presentation at Pitti Uomo. Well, I say presentation. It was more just a skullfuckery of crass, cynical collaborations whose underlying concept seemed to be, “Is your brand a bit naff and corny? Excellent. Do a Gosha collab and then everyone will think you’re being self-aware and ironic”. Is this really a representation of the Soviet identity? Or is it a representation of a Western conceptualisation of the Soviet identity as “anything cheap and tacky that we wouldn’t be seen dead in, so they’d obviously love it”.


Spread out over the course of several seasons, perhaps one or two collaborations a collection, I might have been able to swallow it. There’s something in there about everything being fashion, and about brands that have at one point in time fallen in and out of favour with the general consumer. Hell, at a time in the UK when the Air Max 95, adidas ClimaCool, shell suits and trackies are making a comeback, why the hell shouldn’t Kappa be making a comeback? But even then, the most significant cultural presence Kappa had in the UK in the last fifteen years was on Little Britain’s Vicky Pollard, a character who was herself a problematic and condescending parody of the working class created by two public school educated guys. So I don’t know.

But slamming all those collaborations out in one collection is just overwhelming. Fila, Sergio Tacchini, Kappa, Levis, Reebok, Camper and God knows who else. It really felt less about Rubchinskiy, and more about those brands bobbing their hands up and down going, “Oooh! Oooh! We’re naff too! Be ironically poor with us next!”


I’m just really disenchanted by this whole movement that’s epidemic throughout fashion — at least in the mainstream context, which is important — right now, that making cheap and tacky product is some sort of an artistic or academic statement. Yes, there are amazing designers like Grace Wales Bonner and J.W. Anderson doing really cool and inspiring things with fashion as craft right now. But that speech in The Devil Wears Prada about fashion trickling down into the mainstream is true, and now that big name fashion labels are themselves more mainstream, I think it’s a really crap message to send out there that you can make shit product with a high markup and that’s all that matters. I’d much rather there were mainstream labels doing something to educate about how craft informs value, and how well-made product is better for all of us in the long run.

Finally, a point that was made by the excellent resident writer over at Style-Zeitgeist. I just don’t see any longevity in any of this, from the designer to the customers. I don’t think the people who are fueling Gosha right now are going to be here in a few seasons’ time when the hashtags move on, and I don’t think the product that’s being released is going to be dug out of an archive in years to come as an example of great fashion design of the time. I was interviewing somebody recently who said that these days timeliness is more important than timelessness. And isn’t that the truth? Right now the name of the game seems to be creating something that will grab people’s attention for long enough to get a few headlines and satisfy the PR department, rather than trying to actually make something that really engages people and pushes the movement into new and exciting territory. How depressing, written in Cyrillic or otherwise.


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15 years — Thoughts on Jane Doe by Converge

Like a lot of teenagers, I went through an angry phase. It manifests itself in different ways for everyone, I’m sure, but music was a really big thing for me. As I’ve mentioned before, it started with the whole nu-metal thing — Korn, Slipknot, Marilyn Manson et al — and then my mum and dad intervened and started pushing me in the direction of perhaps the more “traditional” options. It was through this that I was introduced to The Clash, Buzzcocks, Sham 69, Led Zeppelin and so on. Am I grateful for this? Of course. But since when did young people choose their edgy cultural materials to please their parents?

I remember getting massively latched onto punk around the age of 14, and made regular trips to Brighton to get records from the Punker Bunker on Sydney Street. It was a tiny basement underneath this clothing shop called, if I remember correctly, Immediate. The owner, Buzz, is to this day a key player in Brighton’s music scene, organising most of the shows that come through the city. Punker Bunker’s DIY photocopied A6 paper flyers were a constant presence in my teenage years, and it was thanks to the efforts of that small group of people that I was able to see some of my favourite bands in intimate venues like the Engine Rooms (RIP), The Hob Goblin, Concorde 2 and a place near the Level that I think was called Pressure Point? I know there’s some Brightoners reading this so please lend me a hand.

Punker Bunker

Punker Bunker

Anyway, Punker Bunker introduced me to a lot of modern punk and ska, namely bands like Big D & The Kids Table, Capdown, Link 80, Lawrence Arms, Captain Everything, Polysics, Blue Meanies, The Chinkees, and so on. Link 80 were a particularly important band for me; their vocalist, Nick Traina (son of adult-romance novelist Danielle Steele [I know, right?]) killed himself at the age of 19, and the underlying pain in the band’s music both before and after his death resonated on some level.

So from modern music, back to the past, and then back to the present. This, in turn, led me back to the American punk and hardcore scene of the 80s with Minor Threat, Bad Religion, Agent Orange, Black Flag and Dead Kennedys. Considering how much my dad loved British punk, it was very satisfying to hear his disdain that I was listening to Dead Kennedys, a band whose name he described as something along the lines of “utterly atrocious”. Still, when you listen to an album like Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, you can hear some elements of a band that was doing something undeniably new with the genre, even if it was just Jello Biafra’s fucking bizarre vocal style.

And onwards, into the post-hardcore phase with bands like Drive Like Jehu, Fugazi, Hot Snakes and Glass Jaw in the late 80s and early 90s, whilst on the heavier side you had bands like Botch and Dillinger Escape Plan. I understand that I’m rattling off a load of names, but I guess my point is that in the relative blink of an eye, I educated myself about an infinitely expansive musical history, and the ebbs and flows of sound and energy that came with it. Turns out a lot of teenagers like me had been angry for a very long time, each finding their own unique way of expressing it for their time.

Around the age of 15, metalcore, emo, death metal, grindcore and all manner of combinations were in their heyday, and Brighton was a pretty respectable epicentre. Thanks to the likes of Punker Bunker we had bands like Norma Jean, War from a Harlot’s Mouth, Daughters and Dillinger Escape Plan playing right on our doorstep, but the city itself was also the birthplace of the likes of Architects, Johnny Truant, Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster and The Ghost of a Thousand. Granted, we also gave the world The Kooks, but you can’t win them all.

This was in the golden age of MySpace as well, and as hard as it is to believe now, back in 2006 the MySpace music player was the fucking oracle. I can’t even tell you the number of bands I discovered as a result of the four-song induction a band’s MySpace profile gave you. I’ve already listed more than enough bands, to write any more would be a purely self-indulgent exercise, but let’s just say that a lot of them had very long, semi-ironic names.

I was hit by a big wave of nostalgia a few months back and decided to go back through my mind trying to remember all those bands and trying to get hold of all the old records. This might shock you, but at the age of 24 it turns out that Arsonists Get All The Girls’ ‘Hits from the Bow’ isn’t actually very good. To be honest, it was the anger that primarily attracted me, which bands like that provided by the tonne.

I must have been 15 when somebody introduced me to Converge, and like almost everyone I started with their 2001 album, Jane Doe. The other day I was inadvertently reminded that September 4th marked 15 years since the album was released (thanks Sean Mahon), and it got me thinking about that album a lot.


As I’m sure is often the case with Jane Doe, it was the artwork that first caught my attention. Even if you’ve never heard of Converge — fuck it, even if you’ve never even liked metal — I feel like you’ve probably encountered the artwork for Jane Doe. For one reason or another, it became a pretty iconic image that I’d seen years previously on t-shirts, posters, MySpace skins, tattoos and so on, but never known the significance.

As it turns out, Jane Doe would come to be heralded as one of the greatest metal albums of all time. At different points, by different people, at different levels, for different reasons, it has been described as Converge’s magnum opus; the symbol of what hardcore would become in the 21st century; a genre-defining record; a triumph of contemporary punk; one of the most important records of our generation. For that reason, there’s really no point to me writing another article talking about why this album is objectively important. I’m just going to talk about what makes this album important to me.

As I’ve explained, by this point I’d already encountered my fair share of “angry bands”, in all manner of incarnations. As I said in my article about Daughters a few weeks back, one of the things that I feel now is how many of these bands were so formulaic in their attempts to be more extreme. Turn up, play faster, breakdown harder, more blastbeats, more pig squeals.


But when I first listened to Jane Doe, something hit me really hard. Far from an attempt to convey an emotion, this record was an embodiment of pure fucking rage. The moment you listen to the first track, ‘Concubine’, you know you’re listening to something different. The recording style is thick and muddy. The drums sound so distorted and clipped that you feel like it’s been recorded wrong. The vocals are almost instrumental, and completely unlike any other band, closer to an expression of intense pain than hyper-macho gutter vocals and death-metal screams.

I remember the song titles really capturing me also, particularly ‘Bitter and Then Some’. There was something about that which really resonated with me, perhaps the feeling of an intense anger, definable only up to a point. I’m angry, but so much more than that which I can’t even put into words.

The same is true of the lyrics, some of which still encapsulate certain teenage emotions so effectively; ‘You were my last great war'; ‘Those nights we had and the trust we lost/ The sleep that fled me and the heart I lost'; ‘She burns as bright as the sun/ and she falls darker than night/ She shines as light as these days/ and she fades faster than time’.

For the first 11 tracks of Jane Doe, you’re thrown like rag doll through a meat grinder, between heartbreak, anguish, loss, betrayal, despondency, alienation and gut-wrenching rage. I can’t count the number of times I’ve listened to ‘The Broken Vow’ on repeat just to experience that transition from blasting punk drumming to cinematic cymbal punches, back into furious crescendo, and back to blasting snare hits, and all in the space of two minutes.

But the final track, ‘Jane Doe’, is kind of where the whole album is tied together. I’m a sucker for bands who can write a killer closing track — Jimmy Eat World do it, Architects did a pretty solid job on their debut Nightmares EP, and Genghis Tron’s ‘Board Up the House’ has a final track that genuinely makes me feel like I’m drowning — but the final track on Jane Doe works in a different way, because whilst it retains all of the fury of the preceding tracks, it turns all of that into something a lot more fragile.

The guitar melody isn’t quite major key and it isn’t quite minor, neither empowered nor downtrodden, and the lyrics reveal the root of all those previously expressed feelings; ‘Faster than light and faster than time/ That’s how memory works/ … / Out of every awkward day/ Out of every tongue-tied loss/ I want out’.

I’m notorious for sometimes going a bit too deep into the meaning of things — I say this as I approach 1600 words on a metal album that’s already been written about to death — but I think what makes Jane Doe such an important album is not only does it perfectly capture and express those confusing emotions that many of us feel as teenagers and beyond. There’s an element of Jane Doe that tries to ask why. Of course this is most prominent in Jacob Bannon’s lyrics, where declarations of ‘Death to cowards, traitors and empty words’ are quickly followed by ‘You are the everything and the in between/ Push on and soar higher’.

But sonically, Jane Doe is a powerful expression of those very same emotions, from melodies built of equal parts bitterness and bereavement, to a production style that makes you wonder if everything is so loud it could fill a stadium, or if it’s actually just being crushed under the weight of it all. It isn’t an album for everyone, and it was never meant to be, but if you listened to it at some point in your life and felt even the tiniest part resonating, the chances are you’ll find those same pieces scattered throughout the music and be glad it was there when you needed it.

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BACON — #probablybaconsocks 2016


Just a quick one to let you know the guys at BACON have just announced their latest release for 2016, bringing back the bacon socks in the OG white and a brand new black colourway.

As always, the Japanese collective has accompanied the release with an unconventional lookbook showcasing the socks in all their glory, as well as the #metalbacon t-shirt which has received a full restock in both colourways.


My love for BACON has been fully explained by now, so there’s not much more I can tell you. Monkey see, monkey do. BACON release, Gregk writes. They’re about £15 a pair, go with absolutely anything, as the #probablybaconsocks hashtag quickly demonstrates, and they come with free Kevin Bacon stickers so I really don’t get why the fuck I still have to tell you guys to get on board.

#probablybaconsocks 2016 and the restocked #metalbacon tees are available now from BACON-index.

bacon_grandpa_009-02 bacon_grandpa_006-01 bacon_grandpa_013-08 bacon_grandpa_008b-06 bacon_grandpa_012-12 bacon_grandpa_007-04 bacon_grandpa_005-05 bacon_grandpa_011-09 bacon_grandpa_002-07 bacon_grandpa_001-10 bacon_grandpa_004

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A.IN.T Summer 2016 — “Let My Peep Hole Go”

I was talking with a friend the other week about what felt like a golden age in British streetwear, 2008-2010. To my recollection it was a moment where “streetwear” was really manifesting itself in a clear form on both sides of the pond. T-shirts. Big graphics. Sweats. Denim. Sneakers.

This was the high point of labels like The Hundreds, Diamond, Black Scale, DGK, Undercrwn and a whole wave of American brands who were embodying the essential “larger than life” identity that streetwear portrayed. This wasn’t about competing with fashion proper, or integrating, or even co-existing. It was about being cheaper, more accessible, completely on your own wave but making a big fucking scene about it. Undercrwn were a brilliant example of this. OTT caricatures of pop culture American figures, massive typographies, collegiate-style meets hip-hop attitude. Bliss.


Over in the UK you had a number of brands doing a very similar thing, but with a slightly more “British” thread running through. Second Son, MHI, King Apparel, Trapstar, and countless others whose names escape me now. Everything was very “streetwear”, but very Brit about it.


One brand in particular really caught my attention though, partly because my friend Leo constantly heralded them as the very best UK t-shirt label out there. A.IN.T — Art in Transit — were a prime example of the creativity going around at that time, seemingly born out of a burgeoning screen-printing culture. Certainly, it was a very vibrant and colourful time compared to prevailing trends in streetwear right now.


A.IN.T’s offering incorporated a number of different influences typical of streetwear; graffiti, big graphics, big logos, big everything. But where they really made an impact, in my opinion, was their layered graphic tees that blended big block typography with classic illustrations of pin-up models. Visually, they were just miles ahead of the Illustrator-esque cartoon graphics that were being banged out left, right and centre by inferior brands, and text hits like “Honour & Glory” injected a healthy dose of British flavour in a way that so many others tried to do and failed.


A.IN.T wound down rather unceremoniously a few years ago and everything just went quiet. Things went heritage beardwear and people stopped rocking graphic tees as much.

It was a nice surprise to get an update into my inbox the other day, then. This summer, A.IN.T is making a return with a new collection of t-shirts that bring back the essential concept of those pin-up tees in a tweaked configuration. 3 long-sleeve t-shirts, 5 snapback caps and a waxed bucket hat take inspiration from the “Tart Cards” found pasted in phone boxes and scattered round the streets of Soho — a timely update to the original concept considering the rapid transformation of London’s gritty “entertainment district”.


The release is accompanied by a lookbook shot on location by Tom Beard, inspired by Soho’s heyday during the days of Paul Reymond and all the other smut-peddlers. It’s a solid replication of the original idea, and ties everything together well.

The cultural transformation taking place all across London is no mystery by now — East London is pretty much completely switched up, Stratford has transformed into a strange City Boy’s paradise-meets-weekend shopping destination, Peckham is now fresh turf for the farmers’ markets and Brixton… oh, Brixton.


What makes Soho particularly strange though, is that it’s historically sold to tourists and visitors a cultural landmark of sorts. It’s an area that’s being systematically dismantled in favour of a glossier, more market-oriented model, but that new model is still being sold on an old mythology that it actively worked to remove. Kick out all the nightclubs, brothels, massage parlours and peep shows, then sell a flat to foreign investors looking for a property in “gritty, authentic” London. Adam Tickle’s “So Long Soho” was another great exploration of the Soho that is rapidly disappearing, if you manage to get hold of a copy.

That’s what makes this release appealing, to me. It’s classic A.IN.T, geared toward a very current phenomena. Welcome back, A.IN.T, good to see you.

A.IN.T London’s “Let My Peep Hole Go” collection is available now from aint.london. Enjoy the photos and take a trip to Soho while it’s still there. If you’re too late, enjoy a matcha green tea latte, sourdough sandwich and a massive fucking bowl of vanilla instead. Safe.

FEB91B92-9ED1-4DB4-88C1-275286556E9C A6C2BD37-2F0C-4741-8101-28761D71FFD5 C5456C01-63C8-4C24-875F-836ABAA47E70 1EF788A9-6811-45DA-AB0B-0443214CEAE2 5AA34DC0-BFE3-4863-8E04-38CBEC2C6C2D D71BB29C-5F22-49CA-B55B-7DD082332EAD 91ACFB18-A006-4C24-900D-08C72FAFAA7D 238BC850-194A-4EF4-AF59-6E1395F3F15C

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Notes on Christo’s ‘The Floating Piers’ at Lake Iseo


To get from Verona to Sulzano, first you have to get a train about 50 miles West, to Brescia. From there you can get another train that takes you through Paderno and Bornato-Calino, on towards Lake Iseo and its surrounding villages — Iseo, Pilzone, Sulzano, Sale Marasino and so on. Typically, this journey takes about an hour, half an hour each leg. On Tuesday, June 28th, this journey took me four and a half hours.

I’d booked my tickets online a week or so previously. I’d set a whole itinerary for the day, so by 9am I was at Verona Porta Nuova station and ready for my train at 9:30. The train to Brescia was a breeze, genuinely. Turns out when you buy a train ticket in Italy you’re buying a seat, so the number of people in each carriage is the same as the number of seats. You know you’re from London when a balanced seat-to-passenger ratio seems less courteous than it does inefficient.

At Brescia, I made my way toward the ticket office and asked about trains to Sulzano. ‘You’ll need to go outside the station,’ I was told, ‘and walk around to Platform 2. It’s been set up as a special platform.’

‘Okay, thanks, and I have a ticket for the 10:30 train, is that right?’

‘You should be fine, but as I said, you’ll have to go round and join the platform.’

When I get to platform 2, I’m greeted by a line of people running the entire length of the platform, ten feet wide. There must have been about a thousand people there. Optimistically, I tell myself that they must all be chancers. ‘Excuse me,’ I ask someone in a hi-vis. ‘I’ve got a ticket for the 10:30 train?’

‘This is the queue to join the train.’

Christo Lake Iseo 01

So it begins. Turns out that twenty miles away at Lake Iseo, the small town of Sulzano has become so overloaded with people that pretty much everything has ground to a halt. The local authorities had anticipated there would be interest, so they’d organised for more trains to run between Brescia and Sulzano. The only problem is, there’s only one line for both directions of travel, so the only point where trains can pass each other is when the line splits at train stations. More trains, more complication, more trains sat on station platforms waiting for an approaching train to pass before they can move safely forward.

So we’re told trains won’t be leaving Brescia for at least an hour, and once that train gets moving, it could be up to three hours for the next one. Cue groans, lots of ticket waving, strategic line jumping and passive-aggressive shoving. At 12:30, two and a half hours later, I finally manage to get on a train, slowly creeping towards Sulzano.

Once you get to Sulzano, the problem becomes pretty clear. This is a village by a lake in the mountains of Northern Italy with a population of roughly 2000 people. Conservative estimates expected 30 000 visitors a day. News channels were reporting 700 000 people visiting daily. Think of the effect Glastonbury Festival has on the local population each year, then drop that on a village that has had absolutely no experience in this kind of thing before and no opportunity to prepare.

Christo Lake Iseo 02

Another town, another queue, but finally, at last, for the main attraction. First conceptualised by the artist over forty years ago, revisited throughout the decades in projects that were never realised, Christo’s concept of a floating walkway had finally come to fruition at Lake Iseo. Two years of preparation had led to this moment, and on June 18th The Floating Piers would open for just sixteen days. Once your feet were stood on the rippling orange cloth that snaked through Sulzano’s streets, you knew that you were close, and could breathe a sigh of relief. By this point it was 1:30pm, the sky was clear and it was about 32°c. Organisers had resorted to just shooting a fire hose into the air to keep us cool. No complaints. Half an hour later we were finally allowed to walk down to the waterfront.

Christo Lake Iseo 05

The experience of walking on the pier is difficult to put into words. Constructed from 220 000 polyethelene cubes, the structure ripples and sways with every movement of water, and when the lifeboats and ferries passed close to the edge, the entire surface would rise and fall. It was like walking on a pavement where every tile is constantly fluctuating. One person described it as like walking on the back of a whale.

Christo Lake Iseo 03

The photos that had been shared in the build-up gave me some impression of what to expect, but I hadn’t been prepared for the sheer scope and scale of the project; 3 kilometres of walkway floating barely a foot above water level, connecting two completely isolated islands with the mainland for the first time ever.

Christo Lake Iseo 06

As you stood halfway across the first walkway, you’d look up at Monte Isola in front of you, and then look back in the direction you’d come from, and realise your current perspective was one that would be otherwise physically impossible. There’s a sort of symbology about mountains and bodies of water; one of substance and magnitude, and you’re surrounded by them on every side, but then you’re stood on this man-made structure, literally floating, defying the limitations of both the land and the water.

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Once you’d reached Monte Isola, you walked around the mountain’s edge to the next pier, a triangular structure connecting Monte Isola to Sao Paolo, a tiny private island, and then back to Monte Isola. The first walkway was the longest of the three, and after ten minutes of walking in a straight line along the water you get another feeling of the jarring physicality of what you’re doing. Looking over to the other walkway, you can feel the movement going on all around you. Across the lake you can see the ripples and waves of the water ebbing and flowing, whilst the triangle enclosed by the two walkways lies almost completely still.

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At Sao Paolo, having walked almost 2 miles in the afternoon sun, people took cover beneath the trees that climbed over the walled enclosure of the island. For the first time ever, the inhabitants of this house had to put up with people peaking over the rear wall of their garden, which would otherwise be a sheer drop into water. And raising their cameras over the wall to take photos of the family trying to relax on their upper balcony. It was all pretty bizarre.

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After making my way back to Monte Isola via the second walkway, I decided to walk up the mountain roads and look down onto the lake. The visual effect of these thick, rigid orange lines cutting across an idyllic mountain landscape was completely surreal, amplified by the constant stream of tiny silhouettes slowly making their way around in varying directions. I ended up spending about 6 hours that day, walking back and forth, exploring and taking in the experience, wishing I could stay and enjoy it longer, whilst having to accept the necessary transience of the project. Christo himself has said that anyone can create something permanent; that true courage is creating something that is destined to vanish.

Christo Lake Iseo 19

As with all of his and Jeanne-Claude’s projects, Christo denies any deeper meaning to The Floating Piers. The objective was simply to transform an environment and create a way of experiencing the landscape in a new way; to create something aesthetically beautiful. It’s difficult, however, to find yourself overwhelmed by the experience and not try to read deeper. Beyond the obvious religious symbology — official flyers and leaflets invited you to ‘walk on water’ — there was a strong sense of the power of human endeavour, and man’s transformation of Earth. Only recently, a study announced that Earth had officially entered the ‘Anthropocene’, an entirely new geological phase defined by man’s impact on the planet. And then here you were, stood on something transient that had completely altered the environment in which it was placed against all natural laws.

Christo Lake Iseo 24

A few days previously, I met two guys from Berlin, one of whom had heard rumours that so many people were visiting Sulzano that the piers were beginning to buckle under the weight. ‘It’s quite good timing for Christo, if you think about it,’ he said, ‘considering everything going on with the refugee crisis right now.’

Christo Lake Iseo 25

And whilst the distinction between privileged Europeans experiencing an art installation and refugees escaping conflict is an important one, there was definitely a certain symbolism to a series of transient pathways, connecting previously separated landmasses through a tenuous path across water, drawing thousands of people from every direction to a town whose local infrastructure was fundamentally unable to cope with the sheer volume of people it was now up against.

Christo Lake Iseo 26

And whilst the response from everyone looking over at Lake Iseo over the past few weeks has been overwhelmingly envious and enthusiastic of Christo’s work in the area, reception in the local community was markedly split whilst I was there. On the one hand, local businesses were experiencing possibly the biggest boom they’d ever seen; one bakery at Monte Isola was shifting trays of focaccia so fast the bread was being sliced up and served to waiting customers before it could even reach the counter. On the other hand, residents without an immediate financial gain had effectively seen their whole community shut down for 3 weeks with little assistance; Mario, the pensioner I stayed with one village over from Sulzano explained the driving permit system to me. If you wanted to drive through Sulzano you needed a particular permit that wasn’t given to him. They had, however, given him a driving permit for Monte Isola, despite him not even living on the island.

Christo Lake Iseo 16

All that aside, it was difficult to put the whole thing into words — and I say this as I try to do exactly that. The decision to go was a sheer whim. I’ve been familiar with Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work for a few years and, like most people, find the whole concept fascinating. It was after I watched the documentary about the 1974 Valley Curtain project that something deeper hit me. That idea of simply altering an environment and making people view it in a different way; the paradoxical notion of using a curtain not to conceal, but to reveal something else. The opportunity to experience a Christo project in person was impossible to pass up, so I went. And, as I said before, the experience was such that you felt like it should be there forever, but you had to accept that it was destined to vanish as quickly as it appeared.

Christo Lake Iseo 27

A few days later in Verona I cast my mind back to that line of people at Brescia train station. Hundreds of people caged in by police and officials, each holding papers and documents in their hands saying they were supposed to be going somewhere. The officials insisted they were doing everything they could but were equally lacking in answers. They knew we would be able to move forward eventually, they just weren’t sure when, or how. You can only hope that they all see the parallels between a group of people demanding to get on a train to a tiny village out of entitlement to art, and a group of people hoping they’ll one day get on a train, or a boat, to safer shores, out of sheer desperation. The Floating Piers were transient, but the ideas they confronted — albeit by chance — are much more enduring.

Christo Lake Iseo 17

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Hello, Assholes – Loving Daughters, the Most Unlovable Band in the World

I grew up in a family that loved comedy. Name any comedy programme from the 1990s and I can guarantee we used to watch it in my house. From Simpsons at 6pm every day to The Fast Show, Smack the Pony, Big Train, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Absolutely Fabulous, Have I Got News For You, They Think It’s All Over, Shooting Stars and beyond, the art of taking the regular, the everyday, and subverting it, making it other, was an integral part of my development, and probably explains my often misplaced sense of humour as an adult. On an almost daily basis I will be in conversation with people and begin laughing to myself at elements of the discussion that are only apparent to myself. This brings me great joy.


One TV show that seemed to elude me, at least until I was probably 12 years old, was Brass Eye. For whatever reason, it just slipped past me. Its notoriety, however, was always there. I’d seen clips in those “50 best…” programmes and was familiar with the “Bad AIDS” sketch — on a side note, I genuinely watched the TV show which declared Stewart Lee the 41st best stand-up comedian ever, and remember not really getting the Princess Diana joke they used as a clip — but the actual experience of watching Brass Eye eluded me. As a result, it had the same status in my mind as 18-rated films, or knife crime, or heroin; these things that you knew existed, they were out there, but they were just too taboo for you to possibly be allowed to encounter.

Needless to say, I did eventually watch Brass Eye and fell in love. If comedy is about deconstruction and subversion, what Chris Morris did with that show is arguably the greatest demonstration of the artform of the 1990s. A few years later, the older friend of a girlfriend’s sister assumed the role of a dealer pushing the harder stuff to a jaded customer — “Of course, his best work was on Blue Jam”. A week later he gave me a burnt CDR of Blue Jam episodes and I sat down to listen. Fourteen-year old Gregk was changed for ever, and to this day I still haven’t quite gotten my head around what I listened to. Later I would read a profile piece on Chris Morris that explained his method along the lines of; “Chris Morris doesn’t do what he does because he thinks it’s funny. He’s asking a question. Is this funny?”

Around about the same time, I was getting really into metal and hardcore music, courtesy of a friend who introduced me to Australian grindcore band The Berzerker. Eventually he put me onto this math/grind band from Providence, Rhode Island, called Daughters. The first song I heard was titled, ‘And then the CHUDS came’, clocking in at 1 minute and 25 seconds in length. The album it came from, Canada Songs, had 10 tracks and was 11 minutes in total.


Needless to say, Canada Songs is an absolute headfuck of an album, but this wasn’t a typical grindcore album. There were no drop-B guitar tunings, no gutter vocals, no breakdowns, no tired, clichéd, tedious metal scene tropes. Where other bands played as low and gritty as possible, Daughters played nasal, whiny, high-pitched music that totally reconstructed grindcore as a genre. This wasn’t about being “brutal”. This was a demonstration of what madness actually sounds like.


For their 2006 sophomore, Hell Songs, Daughters reconfigured, doubling their album length to a staggering 23 minutes and doing away with most of the distortion on their guitars. Most polarizing, though, was vocalist Alexis Marshall’s decision to do away with his traditional screaming vocals, replacing them with a surly, disconcerting spoken word delivery that sounds somewhere between a drunken lounge singer and what you’d imagine Elvis must have sounded like toward the very end. Marshall justified this move by stating that he was sick of people not understanding what he was saying, the irony being that these vocals were often just as indecipherable, and even more alienating to most listeners than ear-piercing screams, if that’s even possible.

The band’s final album, Daughters, was released in 2010, and was received well, with many critics describing it as their most commercial album yet. In all fairness, they had a point; the production sounded almost traditional; the song names were radio-friendly and a reasonable length (so long ‘My Stereo Has Mono and So Does My Girlfriend’, hello ‘The First Supper’); some of the songs actually had a verse-chorus-verse structure; one song was even actually called ‘The Hit’ and you can genuinely imagine it being played on a radio station. Maybe not a big one, but in the context of Daughters that’s a big fucking deal.

8 tracks, 27 minutes, traditional artwork, self-titled, all the songs at a radio-friendly 3 minute length, with any other band this would be a roaring success, but if you knew Daughters at all then you knew something was up.

The band split before the album even released due to creative differences. Later, Marshall would dismiss the album as too commercial and contrived. For what it’s worth, there’s really nothing wrong with the album, it’s got it’s catchy moments and it still has those essential Daughters qualities, but it’s also fair to say that it was a pretty big departure from the sound they’d built their name on.

To give some clarity to this article about a band that 90% of people will probably have never heard of, Daughters were by no means an unknown band. They supported Fall of Troy on their European tour in 2007, as well as Russian Circles’ 2008 US tour, and they had close ties to a lot of the big names in the scene at the time. They headlined a show at the Engine Rooms in Brighton when I was about 15, a show which remains to this day the best show I’ve ever been to. To go into the details here would be pretty much impossible, but it involves vomit, nudity and microphones in places that microphones shouldn’t be. Debauchery. Pure debauchery.


I started this article talking about Chris Morris and subversion. The reason I talk about that stuff is because, in my opinion, there was a great deal of that in Daughters’ music. Firstly, like all genres, Metal and all of its subsections is rife with clichés, tropes, repetition and tedium. A few years back I decided to track down all the old albums I used to listen to and let nostalgia take hold, and it was only as a grown adult that I realised how many of those bands peddled the same old shit in a different tuning. A lot of it really was not good. But then that was what makes Daughters so great, because rather than get stuck in that cycle, everything they did was a massive ‘fuck you’ to convention.

Every time metal got louder and heavier, Daughters moved closer toward traditional sound. Standard tuning. No distortion. Clean vocals. Every time metal became more obsessed with gory lyrics, grim subject matter, blood and guts, Alexis Marshall doubled down on the simplicity of his songs; they’re all about fucking. Every single one. ‘I want to be the perfect quality to your three-pronged fingertips; the canine nose in your crotch. I want to watch you undress through the keyhole. You make me cum like never before.’ / ‘You’re wishing for a belt of human hair and teeth.’ / ‘This is how you sell when there is no product in the store. This is how you enter without a handle on the door.’ Every time metal tried to break convention by becoming ever more conventional, Daughters fucked with convention itself and created music that was infinitely more groundbreaking.

Between Hell Songs and their final album, guitarist Nick Sadler formed Fang Island, an instrumental indie-rock band that played music that couldn’t be further from Daughters if they tried. Sparkly, sunshine, bubblegum, singalong pop. Really great songwriting, but so disturbing from a guy whose other band wrote such disturbing music. But that just adds to the whole mythos of Daughters to me. The anti-pop element of Daughters is no accident.

In the third series of his Comedy Vehicle programme, there’s a moment where Stewart Lee tells a really conventional joke and the audience bursts out laughing, and he turns to the camera and says, ‘I can write jokes. I just choose not to.’ There’s a similar kind of feeling with that final Daughters album. Something really subversive about writing an album that is more commercial and accessible than anything they’d done before, but only so much that you could just about recognise those qualities. It was never a case of Daughters not being able to write conventional metal — or conventional pop music, for that matter — it was simply a choice not to. It was about challenging convention and showing how much can be done when you stop allowing convention to restrain you.

In Richard T. Kelly’s book “The Name of this Book is Dogme95”, the writer interviews Lars Von Trier and Tomas Vinterberg, founders of the Dogme film movement which birthed Festen, Harmony Korine’s Julien Donkey-Boy, The Idiots, asking what motivated them to create such a deliberately restrictive and confrontational set of rules. Von Trier responds that the angry responses they got from other directors was precisely the reason. “If you tell a filmmaker the only artificial light they can use is a torch tied to their camera, they say, “Then I’ll show you what I can do with a torch tied to a camera!””


That’s the kind of feeling I get from Daughters’ music. If you take away all the bullshit that most metal bands hide behind, would they still be able to tear your face off? And the answer is usually no. The fact is, most metal vocalists sound amazing on recording, but the moment you hear them live they sound like they’re gargling sand. Alexis Marshall just gave it up and decided to sing like William Shatner falling down a well. The effect is so much more chilling, for an entirely different reason.

That quote about Chris Morris treating comedy as a question, then, feels relevant to what I’m talking about here. Daughters never really set out to be the most popular band in the world. Spend five minutes listening to their music and you’ll be able to make your mind up whether this is a band for you or not, and the answer will probably be no. But for me there’s always been something incredible about a band that, despite breaking almost every single rule in the genre, still ends up in the ‘metal’ category at the record store. And not because it sounds anything like metal. Because it’s just too fucking weird to go anywhere else in the store.


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They Came from the Sun — Remembering YOURCODENAMEIS:MILO

I was talking with a friend the other day about punk. More specifically, we were talking about the legacy of punk and the identity and genres that were spawned from it in the decades that followed, and we differed somewhat on how punk itself is actually defined.

To me, although punk initially spawned in a relatively brief explosion at the end of the 1970s, the legacy it left behind is something that can be identified throughout society ever since. My friend took a rather different stance, arguing that punk was a cultural movement that existed roughly between 1976 and 1980, and that the “punk” that followed was not so much a movement as it was a genre.

It’s actually a really interesting point, and one not without merit. At around the age of 8 I got into bands like The Offspring, Green Day and Operation Ivy. Once my dad caught wind of this he started pointing me back to the origins, which obviously meant listening to London Calling, Never Mind the Bollocks, Buzzcocks, Sham 69 and so on. It seems fair to admit that something very important happened over that period that was rather self-contained, but then the “genrefication” that followed to me seems integral to the story of punk in a much broader sense. From punk came Hardcore, Straight Edge, Oi, Riot Grrl, Skacore, and then Post-Hardcore. That they branched off from the genre of origin doesn’t then discount the punk elements that can be identified within, does it? Punk as a movement was four years in the UK, but surely what happened with bands like Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Reagan Youth, Fugazi and (if we really have to) GG Allin is still important when discussing punk as a broader context — and should that broader context necessarily include the development of punk as a genre, so be it.


A prime example of a punk ethos in practice external of punk, to me, is post-hardcore, if only because of what seemed like the genre’s utter refusal to be defined. From hardcore-rooted bands like Fugazi and Quicksand to the more melodic offerings of Helmet and the Kinsella-fronted Cap’n Jazz, post-hardcore is so broad and diverse that it almost feels like a rebellion against precisely that “genrefied” understanding of punk that many of us now encounter. So much of the stylistic and visual elements of 70s punk were a result of Malcolm McLaren’s marketing savvy and Vivienne Westwood’s design offerings, so to act like the music was secondary to a style movement seems to fall into a trap of sorts.

Post-hardcore is so slippery as a genre that even identifying the albums when they release is sometimes hard work. American Football’s eponymous debut passed under the radar with minimal fanfare when it first released. When At The Drive-In released their final album, Relationship of Command in 2000 it was met with a lukewarm response but has since gone on to be hailed as one of the most important post-hardcore albums to ever release and, in my experience at least, shed light on a wealth of bands I might never have heard of otherwise like Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes and Wicked Farleys. Even Meet Me in St Louis, a relatively small band from Surrey, did the circuit for years with scene-centric success before breaking up, and it was at that point that every band under the sun cited them as one of their biggest influences.


In laymen’s terms, post-hardcore is probably characterised as hardcore punk with a brain. Experimental time-signatures and instrumentation, the introduction of melody or alternative vocal styles, a blend of distorted and melodic guitar tones, and so on. As mentioned before though, the more exciting moments come from refusal to be defined. Where this leads me to is a British band who in the early 2000s seemed to simultaneously do both, in the most brilliantly frustrating and frustratingly brilliant way possible.


Yourcodenameis:milo first came to my attention around 2004 with All Roads to Fault. Starting with the title track, the 7 song EP was genuinely something unique and exciting at the time. At 12 years old, it sounded like nothing else that was coming out at the time, sitting somewhere between punk, math-rock, prog-rock and indie, with a production sound (courtesy of Steve Albini) that sounded both garage-raw and completely otherworldly. The EP plays with dynamics in a really interesting way. Tracks like All Roads to Fault and Fourthree mix melodic sections that are barely audible with massive choruses, whilst other tracks like The Problem and First Master Responds are so loud that everything sounds buried beneath everything else until it’s back to quiet again.

When they released their debut album Ignoto the following year, produced by Flood, this style became even more pronounced, polarising a lot of critics. I’m pretty sure I remember one critic describing it as sounding as if it was recorded in a bathtub. To be honest it’s pretty hard to argue with, but then listen to the chorus in Rapt. Dept. and try telling me that isn’t one of the loudest “feeling” songs you’ve ever heard. I can’t think of another time I’ve described a song as “crushing” but it’s the perfect word for so many moments on this album. See also: the first verse in Fivefour. At times the vocals are barely audible. It’s so unique for a band to employ production like that, even fewer that do it well. The only other record that immediately springs to mind is Devil Sold His Soul’s debut Darkness Prevails EP. Moments like that genuinely push the envelope of music further than any wanky tech metal bullshit.


Now to return to my initial description of Yourcodenameis:milo as brilliantly frustrating and frustratingly brilliant, and to tie it into my definition of Post-Hardcore as somewhat indefinable. The thing with Yourcodenameis:milo is that they “did” post-hardcore really well, but then they made such a point of the fact that what they were doing was post-hardcore. To be clear, the track Fourthree is so called because its verse is structured with two bars of 4/4, and then four bars of 3/4. Four bars of three. Fourthree. Which is corny enough, except they had to go and repeat the same trick on Ignoto with Fivefour which is — wait for it — 5/4 timing. Genius. Why did Beckett bother with all that Absurdist messaging in Waiting for Godot when he could have just called it “The Play Doesn’t Mean Anything lol”? Oh yeah, they did a song called Sixthree on their final album as well. Kill me now.

My point is that everything they did seemed to be completely geared towards confirming their identity as a post-hardcore band in a really contrived way. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having your album artwork designed by Storm Thorgerson. He undoubtedly designed some of the greatest album artwork of all time. The album covers he created for bands like Pink Floyd and The Mars Volta are literally flawless. Anyone who has listened to Frances the Mute all the way through knows that Thorgerson completely captured the essence of that album in every single image he created. And yet, for some reason, when it comes to Yourcodenameis:milo, it feels like getting Thorgerson to do their artwork was a means of cementing themselves as one of “those” bands. I fully accept that I’m a pretty cynical guy, but still, when I look at the album artwork for Ignoto I get lots of classic Thorgerson humour and surrealism, but I really can’t place any of it in the context of the music on the record. Ignoto is muddy, gloomy, complex in an elusive way. Thorgerson’s artwork is crisp, cold, calculated. It just doesn’t fit at all to me.


And yet, despite all of this, those first two releases are still massively important in my view. I look back at the early 2000s; all those the Franz Ferdinands, Kaiser Chiefs, Automatics and Razorlights (yeah, those guys. Remember when Johnny Borrell couldn’t go two days without reminding us all how they were the most important band to emerge in the last forty years? He seems to be doing well now. Good for him). Whilst I’m aware that this article begins with an acknowledgement of how subjective a lot of this is, it really doesn’t feel like there were any bands who have endured the same way as bands like Primal Scream, Blur, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses and so on did. And did Yourcodenameis:milo? Not even close. But they did occupy such a particular space in the British music scene that they’ve endured to me as an important band of that period.


Those two albums were followed up by Print Is Dead, Vol. 1, a collaborative project where the band invited a variety of British artists to their Newcastle recording studio and set the challenge of writing and recording a complete song in a single day. 12 days, 12 songs, featuring the likes of Reuben, Lethal Bizzle, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly and The Automatic (I know. Shame.). Again, great on paper but the end result was really pretty lackluster. There are probably about four decent tracks on the whole thing. Of course a volume 2 was promised in the near future that never actually happened. And yet all I can find myself thinking is, “Oh, an experimental project of impressive scope that went unfinished. How very post-hardcore.”

And then a few years later they released their second and final album, They Came from the Sun. It’s not that bad an effort to be honest. Certainly it’s more polished and poppy at points. They developed their techy/math elements into something a bit more accessible on tracks like All That Was Missing (a phenomenal track well worth a listen) and Understand, but otherwise it’s a pretty forgettable affair. Once you’ve listened to this album and Print is Dead it becomes a lot clearer how cohesive Ignoto was.


All of which would be absolutely fine. Truly, it would. So much of this genre is about the ebbs and flows of quality that come with experimentalism. As mentioned before, it wasn’t until the release of their final album mere months before they split that At The Drive-In received recognition, and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez thinks its so bad that he can’t even listen to it. Every single Blood Brothers album is so different from the last that, of all the people I know who listen to them, nobody has the same favourite track.


But then.

But then still.

2007 rolls around. And Yourcodenameis:milo split up. Only they don’t split up. Of course they don’t. Because splitting up isn’t a post-hardcore enough thing to do. Regular bands split up. Post-hardcore bands aren’t regular bands. So they went on “indefinite hiatus” instead, a ridiculous, meaningless phrase that was first coined (to my knowledge) by At The Drive-In in 2001 and has since become the go-to phrase for any band that wants to stick one last dose of pretense into the works before they kick the can. Seriously, when every band from Blink-182 to the Foo Fighters has used the phrase “indefinite hiatus” you know it’s a truly corny linguistic turd.

I’m going to try and tie this all together into an actual point now, so bear with me. The ambivalence of this piece, torn somewhere between adoration and frustration is exactly where I want to be right now. Because Yourcodenameis:milo made some incredible music. Not only that, they had some amazing lyrics that were laden with emotion, duality, metaphor and wit that still get me to this day. Examples: “The angels would look down but you’re too fucking tall”; “Where have you gone tonight? I’ll follow you but then I’ll not get back home”; “To go forward I have to crawl, I have to crawl”. But then they’ve also written some absolute clangers that, even if they do have depth of meaning, are unpleasant to even think about. “Please get away from your disco clouds”. What the fuck is that guys? We’re better than this.


They were a great British post-hardcore band in the early 2000s, but they also tried really hard to be a great British post-hardcore band in the early 2000s. And for some reason that really puts me off. Have you ever seen the Lollapalooza episode of The Simpsons, where Lisa and Bart try to explain cool to Marge right at the end? That exchange pretty much sums up what post-hardcore is to me. Yourcodenameis:milo really wanted to be recognised as post-hardcore. So much so that it’s kind of hard to give it to them. I’ve been listening to All Roads to Fault and Ignoto for a solid two weeks now though, so maybe I’m just whinging over nothing. That would certainly be new for me. Listen to: Fivefour, Rapt. Dept., All Roads to Fault, Fourthree, Empty Feat. Have a good weekend.

Marge: Am I cool, kids?
Bart & Lisa: No.
Marge: Good. I’m glad. And that’s what makes me cool, not caring, right?
Bart & Lisa: No.
Marge: Well, how the hell do you be cool? I feel like we’ve tried everything here.
Homer: Wait, Marge. Maybe if you’re truly cool, you don’t need to be told you’re cool.
Bart: Well, sure you do.
Lisa: How else would you know?

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‘Paris Menswear A/W 2016: Gosha Rubchinskiy’ at SHOWstudio

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Last week I was asked by SHOWstudio to take part in a panel chaired by Daryoush Haj-Najafi discussing Gosha Rubchinskiy‘s Autumn/Winter 2016 presentation in Paris, as well as the Russian designer’s broader influence on fashion & menswear.

The discussion is now available to view on-demand at the SHOWstudio website and below.

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