The following article was published in N-SPHERE February 2011 issue.


Oh… how can one not miss the quaint atmosphere of a rundown autoshop turned into an upside down canopy bed? How can one not see the empiric symbolism hidden behind mattresses on the ceiling and big metal cages on the floor? Actually, it was only one cage, in Cage Club. The rest is history – which coincidentally reminds me of my highschool history teacher who looked like a carrot turned upside down and inside out, overbloated with a misguided sense of discipline and an austerity into what is what that has troubled me since the late years of adolescence. Why does that matter, you ask? Because I was refraining from comparing the concert there with a big carrot. Erm… too late to fake it now, so here we go.

The evening started with an utter and tragic disappointment. There was no wardrobe. However, trying all night to shield my coat from flying burning cigarette buds could have not affected my good time now, could it? So there you have it, the tip of the big red juicy carrot, slowly making its way in… Aaaaane–waaay, the stage was occupied by Tenek. British (yes, with an accent), trying hard, not that bad, not that good, but all in all they made into a nice little start. A pop–ish sound had tentacles into the eardrums at times, but they grew on the eager audience. See? The tip: sweet but not quite satisfying.

After a quick shift of musical instruments on stage, a real surprise popped up, unexpectedly delightful. Rabia Sorda was,in this rant–er’s humble opinion, the jewel of the evening. Erk Aicrag has made a captivating show on stage. So much effervescence in one guy has rarely been seen. Loud sound, very loud; rough, but not brutal; from the peeling thin latex layers on his arms to the red make–up, the show managed to bring out of the audience the will to jump around. On top of that, the dominance infused gestures managed to raise some spirits really fast. The middle of the carrot, boys and girls: yum, juicy, just the right size, wishing it would last just a little bit more; which the audience requested loudly with trampling of boots and whatnot.

And then, there comes the end of the carrot, with a bitter, hard to swallow taste and unappealing leaves, in the shape of Peter Spilles’ hair. I do not have a particularly bad opinion over Project Pitchfork’s music, but oh boy, did they suck live. While expecting a deep soothing voice, the ears got screams. While hearing those hoarse singing efforts, the eye expected consequent scenic movement, which would have been more appropriate to the deep male voice their music has while not live. But let’s make an excuse for them, since the steam–smoke–thing someone was so kind to release on stage in a closed up small little tiny space made my throat hurt sending needles in my larynx every time I uttered a word, I can only imagine what the lead singer was going through up there.

All in all, it was a good night, if you don’t mind holding on to heavy coats in a closed up club with smoke and steam and a bunch of other people.

review & photo by Vel Thora

Full article here.



The following article was published in N-SPHERE February 2011 issue.


For a post–communist country, Romania has not seen too many experimental/unconventional events after 1989. One of the causes for this could be that we were suddenly exposed to so many things that were happening in the Western World, that we could only grasp its hollow foil. Musically speaking, experimental acts started to appear only by the end of the 90s, but events promoting this kind of art were very few. Another decade had to pass in order for the cultural life to start taking shape and, focusing on our subject,for bands from outside the border to start playing here on a regular basis.

Recalling only the last year, I would mention some great concerts with pioneers of unconventional sonic experimentation like Lydia Lunch with her latest project Big Sexy Noise and The Legendary Pink Dots. Along these names, that have reached worldwide recognition while still remaining underground, other lesser known acts brought avant–garde sounds to the ears eager for more, like Xiu Xiu, L’homme puma, Radare, Desiderii Marginis, Khuda, Cecilia::Eyes and so many more. Romanian experimental acts were also seen on stage, altough the local scene is not yet very well developed. One city with quite a few interesting names is Timisoara, The Bad Days Will End having at the end of November one of the greatest shows I’ve seen lately, even if it was in front of approximately 15-20 people, showing that art can still be made out of passion.

Finishing with this very brief “review” of experimental events, the actual subject of this article is the Nadja concerts that will be taking place in the first half of March in Timişoara and Bucharest. They will play alongside The :Egocentrics and Hipdiebattery respectively, and you can read more about them in the next paragraphs.

Having developed a solid band chemistry throughout the years playing together, The :Egocentrics deliver a fresh take on psychedelic hard rock with a jazz–like state of mind, relying on flow, dynamics and improvisation. With its four epic parts ranging from moody and ambient spacerock passages to uplifting choruses and heavy riffing, “Love Fear Choices and Astronauts” marks an impressive debut receiving an overwhelmingly positive feedback from specialized press all over Europe and US. ::

Hipdiebattery is the audio recycling product of Anca Ştirbacu, visual artist based in Bucharest, Romania. She finished University of Fine Arts Bucharest, her background is video and photography, being involved in projects with HBK Saar, RoArchive, AltArt, Spazi Aperti, Time’s Up, Interface Culture Linz. Hipdiebattery is the audio support for her visual projects and interactive installations mixing lo fi, electronic, noise, trance, witch house, synth pop, balearic, tropicalia, psychedelic, and possibly a hint of manelo–ghetto hiphop. ::

Nadja is a Canadian duo made up of Aidan Baker (guitar, vocals, drum machines) and Leah Buckareff (bass, accordion, vocals) alternately based in Toronto and Berlin. Originally began as a solo project by Baker in 2003, Buckareff joined Nadja in 2005 to bring the project out of the studio and into live settings. Together, the duo creates music which has variously been described as “ambient doom”, “dreamsludge”, and “metal-gaze”, combining the atmospheric textures and elements of shoegaze and experimental/ambient music with the heaviness and volume of metal and noise music.

Nadja has released numerous recordings on such labels as Alien8 Recordings, Hydrahead Records, Beta–Lactam Ring Records, Robotic Empire, and their own fledgling label, Broken Spine Productions. Nadja has toured and performed extensively around the world, appearing at such festivals as SXSW, FIMAV, Roadburn, and Unsound. They have shared the stage with such as artists as Tim Hecker, James Plotkin, Khanate, Grouper, Earth, Francisco Lopez, Isis, Om, The Grails, KTL, Z’ev, and many others.

In addition to Nadja, Baker is also active as a solo musician and a writer. He has released many solo albums and is the author of four collections of poetry. Buckareff is also the owner-operator of Coldsnap Bindery, a production house of handmade books, and curator of The Wunderkabinet, a wandering exhibition of art, craft, and curious. ::

by George Tanasie

Full article here.



The following article was published in N-SPHERE February 2011 issue.


Sanatorium Pod Klepsydra (The Hourglass Sanatorium) is like the man in Naked Lunch not talking about the way(s) in which he gradually murders his wife. On the surface it may only seem a very curious mix of Fellini, Gilliam, Greenaway, and maybe two shakes of Zulawski framed inside a story which seems to take the same route as other countless stories treading oniric grounds have taken before. And yet there is a sense of rigour in all of its frenzy sustained by a very striking imagery.

The story itself is very simple: a man (Joseph) is taking a trip to visit his father (Jacob) in a sanatorium. The father is assumed dead, but he is kept alive through some sort of an artifice, and in order “to save his vital energies” he sleeps for long hours. And there you have it, the mechanism that triggers the whole movie. We have the entrance, the gateway and the worlds created. The fun part about this from the very start is that there are many ways you can look at it.

There is the Kafkian method, the opening window, which would also explain the name (Josef). There is a Greenaway–ian method (Prospero’s Books, if you may), where worlds are presented side by side through their own image, by using the visual and nearly bypassing the verbal language (we see it here very clear: there are few conversations, most of them are splinters, fractions that seem to come from dreams rather than from anything else. Even from the very start, the dialogue between the protagonist and the nurse is very eloquent in this particular sense). And there is even a Biblical way: Joseph the son of Jacob, Jacob who in his last days expressed his wish of not being buried in Egypt, but in Canaan with his forefathers (there is even a moment in the film in which the Three Wise Men appear). But this is only a start and the linkage is more relevant to the father–son relationship, rather than to anything else.

There is an Alice in Wonderland feel through the film as well – the window from the father’s room is cracked, and through that cracked window we see a boy who is the one leading Josef in his journey (rabbit–holes, anyone?). The boy – Rudolf – links to a lot of Greenaway’s later child protagonists (and I have Drowning By Numbers in mind, both Smut and The Skipping Girl) and is in fact an incarnation of the child instilled: all of the curiosity and desire and none of the guilt, repression, fear or other things that prevent grown–ups from doing what they would want to do sometimes. There is a pair to that: Bianka (white, and indeed she is dressed in white and she looks pale), who has a certain type of frenzy you can only find in a woman or girl, someone who Josef has never met, yet longs for, silently.

And this kind of boldness is a main attribute of the film as well: The Hourglass Sanatorium does not try to explain its frantic course, or should I say it does not try to use it as a part of a conventional plot to gain mainstream audience. It just follows what it’s set out to do, for better or worse since some things are too great (not referring to the grandeur but to the size mostly) to fully happen, they just try to happen, partially. This is also what the film tells us at some point through another key character: The Blind Conductor. Yes, blind, just like Josef winds up towards the end of the film and with the lantern that Josef too will wear around his neck.

On a related note, the film can also be seen as the requiem of the Eastern Europe Jewish culture and also as a criticism on how Europe mis–labeled as primitive what – on its own right – stands outside such labeling attempts. A life on its own cannot be gazed at as one would gaze at an object. There are no quantifications here, and what may be relevant in this particular sense is more linked to immediate actions, reactions and interactions to a certain environment (way of thinking, filtering, system of ideas those are the things that can support such labelling), but life itself is not embodied in these aspects. And there are things that come from the heart, things that cannot be explained in a rational manner because there were no rational aspects that triggered them in the first place – things as objects if you may, hanging loose, outside an everyday life context.

One needs to experience such things, rather than try to rationalize them and when truly experienced, the outcome transcends mere words. You cannot fully explain an experience, you can describe what you have felt, but that mere description on its own is artificial, therefore at least partially fake. The film itself has worked the same way. Has did not have to answer to a marketplace, so the film is honest and uncompromising and yes it partially invented the worlds of directors such as Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton or David Lynch.

There is another aspect: that of objects coming to life. Characters themselves are objects, brought to life by their writers, manipulated by them to serve a certain setup, characters create, however, in this process, worlds – languages that are part of the work’s (meta–)language. There is a fascinating thing with stories such as Pinocchio, for example, because we get to see those characters bringing to life other objects. The same thing happens here in the episode in which Jozef enters some sort of a figure store, those figures come to life in the end and they are led by him in what would, in the end, take a Holy Mountain–ish turn. Or El Topo, if you may – the ones repressed, annihilated, forced to stillness, trying to come out in the open. Actually, the whole marketplace episode and some other episodes as well, carry the same idea, but in a lighter and far more pleasant register.

One could notice a strong erotic sense as well, but one driven not by the flesh, one that is eerie, unrestrained and in the same time natural: sex as a form of communication, stripped away of any other convention or social duty.

“They all are sleeping here” and “here it is never nighttime” – sleep as possibility to travel, no longer a simple necessity occurring during the night. By removing the context in which sleep usually occurs, we can see what sleep may actually unravel and this is only set to be an example. Actually it may turn out to be more useful in other aspects.

Having said all this, I leave you alone with this film, to dream, one of another, who knows what experiences may be unraveled.

Deep dreams, children…

Movie still: Hourglass Sanatorium.

by Shade

Full article here.



The following article was published in N-SPHERE February 2011 issue.


A clock face, without mechanism, without wheels, with only a quarter of it divided and marked. A disfigured presence, a lifeless mask, a useless piece of… but all in all, an installation that carries one of the heaviest multitude of paradigms, theories, beliefs, successes and failures of mankind: The Doomsday Clock. Ah, how James Bond–ish it sounds (with a British accent, you know). However, the reality of the matter is that someone managed to dramatically materialize the highest fears of the end of the second millennium. It is, indeed, a piece of art. Though the builders are scientists, who is to say a rational mind is an unproductive mind?

The Doomsday Clock has the following written on its back (no, it doesn’t, but let’s pretend):
Lemma: The Big Bang actually happened.
Hypothesis: There is a new Bang in the near future, about six minutes from now.
Proposed Theorem: Humanity is one sick bastard.

Proof (it’s only two paragraphs, don’t be scared): Notation: World = F(Human), where F is a nonlinear, complex function of the Human variable.

Given Lemma, it is stipulated that a huge explosion started the World. According to Chaos Theory, the dynamic system that comprises the World is subject to its initial conditions. Thus, it can be concluded that the World has a Bang for initial state. Second, assuming that the Human variable is a function G of Emotion and Reason: Human = G(Emotion, Reason) and accepting the stochastic behaviour of Emotion, it is concluded that the Human variable is random (you’re doing great, one more paragraph to go).

Thus, it is proven that the function World has a stochastic behaviour in time. Systems Theory proves the continuous character of the real complex World, thus stating that stability of a system is immutable, with the lack external intervention. Given the random nature of the Emotion variable and the asymptotic decay towards zero of the Reason variable (proven by means of observation experiment), the World system is unstable over time (good job, get ready for the big finale).

Conclusion: The World, with Bang initial conditions, continuous random behaviour and intrinsic instability will end in a Bang, and it is all the Human variable’s fault. Tsk, tsk.

And now, in layman’s terms: The Doomsday Clock was created at the University of Chicago by the board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1947. This installation is a symbolic approach of humanity to global disaster. With three quarters of the face empty, this lifeless clock was first an alarm signal to the threat of nuclear cataclysm, a metaphor to the frailness of human life and self–destructive tendencies of Earth’s inhabitants. The minute hand of the clock advances or recesses according to international political, economical and scientific context, while the hour hand rests eternally at midnight, proving humanity’s disbelief in being more than mere hours away from total annihilation.

Though disturbing, the idea has deep roots in the events of the past century, which do not seem to have progressed very far until present. The 1947 time, in the midst of nuclear weaponry and research, was 7 minute to midnight. Today, the clock reads only 6. The timeline climbs and decreases over the years, but the farthest to doomsday was 17 minutes, while the closest showed 2 minutes. These two dates are important, as they shape a fear not of nuclear winter and death of humanity, but a fear of terror, a fear of social change, an inability to cope with the established social order and a desire to impose it on others. The 2 minutes time was set when both the USA and USSR had their hands on the first hydrogen bombs. The 17 minutes time was set when both the USA and USSR kissed and made up. So what can one conclude from this, other than an unnaturally extreme fear of being forced into a different society?

But the issue is not that simple. The human mind has been imagining utopian worlds into dystopian futures ever since the invention of science–fiction. From Asimov to Wells, the mid–century literary variations of the same concern are distributed over a wide range of philosophical views on society, its structure, and the influence scientific advances has over it. The question that popped at least once in one’s head was “what will happen a century from now?”. Asimov imagined a world of robots, a world of war, a world of cybernetic triumph over flesh decay. Wells, instead, imagined utopian societies, a global state and the victory of man over matter.

However, they both open gates to the true nature of things. In The Dead Past, a 1956 short story, Asimov presents a society in which scientific discovery is restrained and controlled. The government’s motivation was that this tactic has been put in place for the greater good of the society and to protect the personal freedom of the individual. But Asimov’s point was that control over scientific discovery is impossible. Which reminds me, the point of this little story is that when trying to control a large mass of people, there will always be something that escapes. What? You say it resembles the decay of communism we–know–where? Shut up and be a sheep.

On the other hand, Wells tried looking even further into a fictional future and concluded that by the 22nd century the world will be under the “Modern State in Control of Life”, in 1933′s The Shape of Things to Come. With tactics of behaviour control and sublimation of interest, the global organization of this future society was the result of a different unfolding of the World War II related events. Unlike today, when globalization has become a reality and advertising strategies rule the consumerist society… wait, did I say “unlike”?

So you see, a plenitude of fucked–up… err, concerning points reside behind the Doomsday Clock. There is a fine line between the utopia of equality and the dictatorship of fear. However, a small amount of hope survives. Waking up, smelling the roses won’t cut it anymore. Waking up and using the gray matter is desired. But waking up and seeing the destruction that is already happening around is ideal, in this utopic dystopia we call World.

Artwork: Vel Thora. Doomsday Clock. Artistic representation

by Vel Thora

Full article here.



The following article was published in N-SPHERE February 2011 issue.


Beside the fountain he stopped to sneak back into the onetrack mind of the infidel in him. The tormenting duality left him drained and out of focus, with the same old petty wondering through the meanders of the same old “nothing”.

“You’re pale. You could say that something or someone devours you from the inside… yet again. Or may it be that your illusion is coming to an end?” “Yes… Come… I feel your treacherous claw crawling up my chest and squeezing. I recognize the slow insinuation in my mind. The horrid odor takes me back to a sunny day… I feel like we’re on borrowed time already. But I’m too spineless to say it out loud.” “I don’t recall seeing you in a different state other than misplaced and disoriented, oblivious and alone… And even now you don’t try to come to terms with whatever happened to you, and move on. You could have been so much more than what you are” “Perhaps it is not all lost.”

And as the architecture of his sanity slowly collapses, and without so much as an empty crypt to rest for a while, he’s not ready to lead vast armies of innocent souls into the holy war. The infernal gate of a concentration camp only known to him opens wide, leaving him paralyzed with awe and wonder. Extermination is the new standing order, fresh pages of the genocide being written every day on parchment skins, and engraved on the barbed wire jewelry.

“I know I can’t go back, but set me free nonetheless. This is how our winter should look like.”

text & artwork by Bahak B

Full article here.