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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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?
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.