Music

Northern Gothic - Scott Daniel Ellison - The Birthday Party

Dark figures before bonfires in open fields. Vampires that may or may not be Halloween costumes. Animals with an extra-sentient malice in their toothy snarls… These are glimpses of "The Birthday Party" -- works by Scott Daniel Ellison on display at the Clampart Gallery in NYC. These small, folk-style paintings bring together imagery from Scandinavian folklore, heavy metal, and contemporary horror to create a landscape where satanic, or at least decidedly pagan wickedness seems to be the natural state. Viewing Ellison’s work one gets the feeling of being drawn into the logic of folktales and pulp supernatural, the familiar plot line of accidentally witnessing the occult and being caught in its’ machinations. As the title of “The Birthday Party” implies, this is a world where social rituals are transformed into dark magic and seemingly innocent encounters are full of dire implications.

Ellison is also a musician and the complexity that comes from the meeting of his visual and musical output enhances both. The folk elements that infuse his paintings with menace take on a gentler, more melancholic tone in his songs. Sweetened by guitar, banjo, and sharp harmonies, his lyrics shift from mythic imagery in pieces like “Northern Girl” and “Strange Weather” to the down-home domestic in “Raccoon Song". In his song “Wilderness”, he asks that his heart be taken “downriver in a dug-out canoe… to a bonfire that burns the whole night through.” After viewing the works that make up "The Birthday Party", the lyrical, traditional mood of this song is haunted by that vaguely Ozzy Osbourne figure in fringe, skulking by the flames in the painting “Bonfire". It’s this uncanny tracing of the interactions between folk form and pop reference that makes Ellison’s vision a rich and relevant addition to the contemporary, rural gothic genre.

Scott Daniel Ellison – The Birthday Party is on display from Jan through Feb 20, 2010 at:

Clampart Gallery

521-531 West 25th St

Ground Floor

New York

Songs by Scott Daniel Ellison available on iTunes or from Beatrice Records.

Mp3

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image