Wednesday, April 19, 2017

David Lynch: The Art Life

"In those days, my world was no bigger than a couple of blocks. Huge worlds are in those two blocks."

I'll begin this review with a warning: this documentary isn't for everyone. In fact, unless you're a die-hard Lynch fan, an art fan, or an art student, I would easily assume you'd be susceptible to a few yawns here and there. 

Now with that being said, I spent the entire hour and thirty minutes grinning. David Lynch truly is a legend. The man that brought you such cult classics like Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, and Eraserhead, to name a few, finally gives you a peak into his upbringing and his life as an artist, which to the general public is something of an unknown. The Art Life is a documentary about Lynch's early life, from his youth in Spokane, Washington (hello, Twin Peaks inspiration), to the move to Montana and Idaho, and finally Philadelphia, where he pursued his career in art.  

The wonderful thing about Art Life is that it's told strictly through Lynch's narration in his home, with shots of him present day, bouncing his daughter on his lap, serenely painting. This is intermitted with photos of his earlier artwork, along with videos and images of his family and friends growing up. Being so simplistic seems to work; you're absolutely enamoured by Lynch's way of telling a tale. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen, constantly watching these old clips of him just waiting for a glimpse of something unexpected or shocking. That being said Lynch is a tease, and as we all know loves to leave you guessing.

The contrast between his upbringing and his art is something peculiar as well. He describes his mom in the most wonderful way, being a loving mother but still stern and religious, albeit not in a suffocating manner. His father on the other hand was exceptionally fair, and would always meet David "halfway" when he had a favour to ask. These stories are coupled with images of his artwork, that to someone watching the film on mute would be absolutely disturbed by what must have been going on in his head. 

Stories of David falling in with the wrong crowd in his teens and a bizarre occurrence as a child playing in his neighbourhood and coming across a bloodied, naked woman walking past seem to shape thoughts and ideas in his films later on. Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks suddenly seem to have a little bit of truth littered about, and running into things like that are what make this film such a treat to watch.

Even with some bizarre occurrences in his formative years, and with his artwork that teeters on the dark side, I spent my time in the theatre oddly enough feeling like I understood him, and watching as he seemed absolutely at ease and laid-back, with not a care in the world. It's equally as fascinating finding out about his passion for art and the constant praise from artist Bushnell Keeler who pushed him to continue painting.

"You drink coffee, you smoke cigarettes, you paint, and that's it."

The film neatly ties together in the end, where Lynch sees one of his pictures moving, thus inspiring him to make "moving pictures", this then turns into his departure to LA, and subsequently ends with the creation of Eraserhead.

Jon Nguyen, who directed the documentary really succeeds in giving it a Lynchian vibe, which I'm sure David helped with, leaving you wanting to know so much more, but still content hearing about the director's intimate beginnings.



Friday, April 7, 2017

Tei Shi - Crawl Space LP

Raise your hand if this release was a pleasant surprise. After charming a plethora of indie music aficionados back in 2014 with her single, Bassically, Tei Shi is back with her debut album, Crawl Space. She's mastered her own genre, blending fluid, airy beats with her sultry voice. Tei Shi is fearless, much like the tarantula moving across her face on the album cover. Valerie Teicher, the New York-based singer, is an insanely skilled vocalist, and she really flexes her vocal chops on this LP, blending silky smooth ocean-like waves that lull you into a beautiful trance. 

The album starts off with a recording of her as a child, a reoccurring interlude throughout, where she talks about her insecurities and musings. It really gives her this down-to-earth quality that makes her even more likeable than she already is. After that, we dive into her lead single from the album, Keep Running. It just oozes this energy and puts you in a different state, with heavy drums, a reverberating bass line, and her luxe voice that whisks you miles away. 

Branding her own sound as "mermaid music", Tei Shi really has an undefinable genre. She blends a sort of minimalism that's tinged with R&B, she's an experimental artist with definitely her own flair. At one point we hear her Bad Singer interlude, where as a child she announces she hopes one day to sing like Britney Spears. Right after that we jump into Say You Do, which is finest sort of pop music. It's super catchy and danceable, with an unmistakeable radio quality about it.

Baby on the other hand is airy and light, perfect for afternoon lounging. It's totally different than the other songs on her album, basic but clean, evoking fuzzy and warm feelings. Tei Shi is truly a chameleon, because she takes you from that innocent emotive state, into slow and sultry bedroom music like on Como Si, which is sung entirely in Spanish.

Crawl Space is refreshing, it's a different take on pop music that I haven't heard in a really long time. I was so excited for this release and Tei Shi delivered. She's absolutely captivating, and this unique confidence she has I'm sure she'll take with her to whatever musical venture she puts out next. If you've fallen absolutely in love much how I have, be sure to catch her on tour currently with MØ this year.

PS; She's a Grimes-approved artist, and if that's not enough reason for you, I don't know what is ;)



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