July 22nd, 2005


Nathan's taste

Last weekend I was invited out to Red Hook, Brooklyn to visit Nathan Michel. Red Hook is beautiful, hip yet tranquil, like bits of Berlin, and like Williamsburg used to be. You see foxgloves sprouting on street corners, you see incredible decaying industrial buildings, red brick docklands warehouses occupied by artists, views out over the Statue of Liberty and the Verazzano Bridge, huge satellite base stations owned by Time Warner, quaint old seadog bars, trendy coffeehouses with pomo alpine themes...

Nathan himself is a recent transplant from Princeton University, still working on his PhD (something to do with the link between Stravinsky and Paul McCartney). He selected a few cultural treasures to show me as I sat in his living room, watching ferries plow up and down the East River in a gap between buildings. Since Click Opera is all about sharing cultural capital with everyone, everywhere, I thought I'd share Nathan's excellent taste with you all.

His favourite film at the moment is Lars Von Trier's documentary The Five Obstructions, in which Trier challenges the veteran filmmaker Jorgen Leth to remake his 1967 film "The Perfect Human" five times, each time with a different handicap or obstruction.

Nathan recommends the Uske Orchestra, a Belgian group on Sonig who apparently share some of the spirit of early Scratch Pet Land. Their new album "Nico et la Berlue" will be released on Sonig in November 2005.

Speaking of Sonig, I'm sure Nathan would endorse this too: a recent archive of Donna Summer's WFMU show "Advanced D&D with Donna Summer" features a current favourite artist of mine, DJ Elephant Power. You can download his one hour DJ set The Impact of the Elephant on Its Environment. It's a flipped budget fidget!

Nathan, who's a classical music major, also recommends The Complete Tape Music of Dick Raaijmakers, a Dutch composer born in 1930. Check out the video for "Intona (Long)".

Thanks, Nathan, for a lovely Saturday, by the way! Great to meet you after all this time. Oh, Nathan's new album is called "The Beast" and is fantastically interesting and inventive.

Since Click Opera is all about exchange, here are some things exciting me at the moment. Yukinori Maeda of experimental Osaka fashion collective Cosmic Wonder looks like a young Howard Devoto. He doesn't just design (mostly snow white) clothes; he also makes installations and dance pieces, sings and photographs... I'm currently trying to get an interview with him. Someone who did is Here and There magazine. I like their jolie-laid design aesthetic.

I've decided that I intend to be influenced by Robert Ashley. (Yes, it really does happen like that. One day you decide to be influenced by someone. All resistance crumbles and you say "Welcome!") Is there a DVD, I wonder, of his TV opera Perfect Lives, filmed by the UK's Channel 4 in 1984 and broadcast over a period of weeks? Did I catch any of it at the time? I don't know, but I've been furtively downloading the opera from [source that I cannot name]. Here's an interview with Ashley.

Finally, the all-important question. What are you wearing? I'm wearing a lovely grey Nein No Non T shirt by Alex Rich, a Tokyo-based designer I recently interviewed for ID magazine. It matches my skirt... I mean, kilt! And I've found a wonderful cool, cream Moroccan robe. I've always wanted to ditch tight Western clothes and wear loose flowing robes. Now, in my old age, I seem to have got eccentric enough to do it. When it stops raining in Berlin I may even be able to walk around wearing the damn thing in public.