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PICKS OF THE MONTH

diskurso art magazine's

July 2021 Picks

Published July 25, 2021

Artivist work, image-centered juggernaut, meme, arts journalism report

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Tumindig.jpg

Tarantadong Kalbo's tweeted "Tumindig" artwork

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Gabby Baizas' report in Rappler documenting the new Tumindig movement online

Tarantadong Kalbo's "Tumindig" digital artivist work and Gaby Baizas' report on the Tumindig online movement

(Tarantadong Kalbo's tweet posted 17 July 2021, Rappler report by Gaby Baiza published 21 July 2021)

GABY Baizasreport in Rappler describes quite well the "Tumindig" digital artwork's origins and the bandwagon and juggernaut that happened around that artwork's copylefted main image. So we won't dare add anything more.

    Except maybe to guarantee on graphic artist and animation director Tarantadong Kalbo's behalf that the now-iconic "Tumindig" piece won't ever fall into a non-fungible token ditch.

Interview, reprint

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The 2021 Philippine Collegian page with Karima Lorena Tariman's 1998 interview with University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts dean Neil Doloricon. [Click here to access the page]

The Philippine Collegian reprinting of Karima Lorena Tariman's 1998 interview with the late Neil Doloricon titled "Neil Doloricon: Pumanaog sa Toreng Garing, Isulong ang Nasyunalistang Sining!"

(Re-publication date: 16 July 2021, Philippine Collegian)

Online music performance/video

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Musicians for Democracy's video of their cover of "Aawit Ako"

(Posted 7 July 2021, Facebook)

FIRST performed in 2011 by Musicians for Peace, the song has music by Dongeto, Aban, Dailo, Cajipe, and Almendras with words by L. Crisostomo, Aban, Pura, and Dailo.

    The lineup has changed a bit, and the name (Musicians for Democracy) has been fitted to the needs of the right-winged national moment, and the lyrics, well, . . . see how they jive with the video images?

Web/television series

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How to Become a Tyrant

(Released 9 July 2021, Netflix)

SO you think your mayor is beginning to show a dictatorial streak. Here's a documentary series based on The Dictator's Handbook by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith to tell you if he's got the right recipes for a dictatorship hell's kitchen.

    Narrated by that giant of a voice that advised dictators in Game of Thrones, Peter Dinklage's, the series posits the fact that diktat-wielders don't have to be smart; they only have to have gargantuan hubris. But although the road to a dictatorship may come naturally to some, it can actually be learned by those who'd like to know how to go in this direction. Remember, everyone is corruptible and would love to have absolute power if given the opportunity to grab it; it is this opportunity that would make it easy for one to start to acquire the necessary narcissism of greed or anger in order for him/her to want more.

    Now, the series may have opted to eschew naming our present-day dictators, but the gist concerning these kinds of leaders in our time is already quite clear just from realizing the parallels that exist between those oldies' behaviors and techniques and our contemporary dictators' brash "genius."

    This is a series not for the faint-hearted, they who may prefer to innocently watch soap operas for a  continuing ignorance than know anything about the power motives and price of the planet's eternally shameless politics.

New material culture object, new heritage asset

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Juanita's Foods' "nacho cheese di-spenser"

(Launched 30 June 2021, USA)

THE dip dispenser is nothing new. But, in light of the SARS-CoV-2 virus pandemic, the automatic hand sanitizer dispenser became medically de rigueur, and from this came Juanita's Foods' and BBDO Los Angeles' promotional merchandise idea of giving out dip dispensers adapted from the automatic alcogel dispenser, which should have been here a long time ago. Can you imagine your favorite fish balls hawker going around your barangay with one of these, giving us a long-overdue guarantee of double-dipper-free sauces?

    BBDO LA's press release explains: "Juanita’s Foods is jumping into the party prep with the Nacho Cheese Dip-spenser that operates similarly to the hand sanitizer dispensers the world has become so familiar with over the last year. They allow nacho cheese lovers to eliminate the communal dipping bowl and instead serve a contactless individual portion of nacho cheese sauce. The device even warms up the cheese for a more delicious experience and cheese lovers have a chance to win one this week to enjoy for their 4th of July celebrations."

Music album

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The Golden Casket

(Release date: 25 June 2021. Label: Epic. Genre: indie rock)

UNCUT: "Those in thrall to Modest Mouse's well-honed blend of ramshackle punk-folk and predilection for dispensing off-grid wisdom will find much favour with the latest addition to their canon."

    Northern Transmissions: "It’s surprisingly fresh and full of the kind of brooding you would associate with Isaac Brock’s songwriting . . ."
    PopMatters: "Modest Mouse’s The Golden Casket is a lively and soulful return; one marked by a distinct sense of clarity and appreciation of life."

    NME: "The Pacific Northwesters have turned in a psychedelic pop masterwork that picks up the positivity they first explored with 2004 mega-smash 'Float On'."
    Pitchfork: "The band’s first new album in six years is a procession of pinging, clanging, reverberating tactile pleasures, an inventive backdrop for Brock’s familiar blend of forced optimism and unforced paranoia."

Music album

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The Turning Wheel

(Release date: 25 June 2021. Label: Sacred Bones. Genres: art pop, baroque pop)

LOUDER Than War: "Cosmic ballads infused with hope for a better tomorrow. If the reality of the daily grind is starting to wear a little thin, then I can’t think of a better piece of artful escapism to immerse yourself in than The Turning Wheel."

    Pitchfork: "The myth-skewing, Oakland-based artist is a chameleonic pop singer on her third album. Whimsical and urgent, these are fairy tales meant to wake us up."

    Under the Radar: "The Turning Wheel sees (SPELLLING) taking her affinity for campy theatrics and spacey sci-fi production seen on her previous two albums to another height, thus creating her most maximalist and lavish project yet."
    Uncut: "Her third LP The Turning Wheel has the feel of a big reveal. Her voice, as dramatic and flamboyant as a young Kate Bush, now pirouettes amid a backdrop of warm brass and orchestral funk supplied by an extended cast of players."

Music album

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We're All Alone In This Together

(Release date: 23 July 2021. Label: Neighbourhood. Genres: UK hip hop, conscious hip hop)

EVENING Standard: "The second album from Streatham rapper David Orobosa Omoregie, known simply as Dave, is his second masterpiece."

    The Guardian: "The rapper’s long-awaited second album darts between hedonistic swagger and unsparing social commentary to cement his place at rap’s apex."

    Clash: "Literate, wise, and emotionally devastating, ‘We’re All Alone In This Together’ places Dave at the absolute pinnacle of British music."

    musicOMH: "It’s the album that disproves the myth of the ‘Mercury Prize Curse’ and also consolidates Dave’s reputation as one of this country’s most important and impressive young artists."

    The Line of Best Fit: "Within the chapters of We’re All Alone In This Together, Dave strikes at the core of his identity, vulnerability, and struggle."

    NME: "Always ready to tell the hard truths for those who can’t, Dave has proved again that he’s a voice of a generation, sitting pretty atop his peers when it comes to making unforgettable London rap classics."

Music album

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Mood Valiant

(Release date: 25 June 2021. Label: Brainfeeder. Genre: neo-soul)

THE Sydney Morning Herald: "Hiatus Kaiyote are sounding ever more masterful in their ability to weave together intricate, funk-riddled, R&B-tinged jazz – but this time there’s a darker edge."

    albumism.com: "Hiatus Kaiyote are an utterly unique band and have a sound that defies labels and draws upon a wealth of diverse influences to create something that eludes easy definition. This album merely adds to the array of styles they have mastered and shows a group unbowed but inspired by the hardships they have faced."

    Clash: "Altogether, 'Mood Valiant' is a joyous, frolicking ode to renewed life. It signals a strong return for Hiatus Kaiyote."

Music album

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A Color of the Sky

(Release date: 25 June 2021. Label: Fat Possum. Genre: dream pop)

PITCHFORK: "(Lightning Bug's) A Color of the Sky wears its derivative textures as a superhero might don a form-fitting costume, transforming tales of creative defeat into high-definition triumphs."

Music album

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Dark In Here

(Release date: 25 June 2021. Label: Merge. Genre: indie folk)

PASTE: "Dark in Here doesn’t exactly capture America’s emerging comprehension that, in fact, there’s rot at the country’s core that requires swift remediation; mostly it gives opportunities to reflect on and recover, if only slightly, from our national trauma."

    Pitchfork: "A gloomier companion to 2020’s Getting Into Knives, John Darnielle’s latest is patient, tense, and full of empathy."

    Rolling Stone: "Even at his most unsparingly grisly, Darnielle has delivered his dispatches from the hardest precincts of the darkest margins with a perfect balance of irony and empathy."

    American Songwriter: "These particular sessions were graced by local legend, songwriter and Hammond organ ace Spooner Oldham and guitarist Will McFarlane, each of whom adds to the atmospheric embellishment on the album."

Music album

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Boy from Michigan

(Release date: 25 June 2021. Label: Bella Union. Genre: psychedelic rock)

THE Line of Best Fit: "Boy From Michigan is perhaps (John Grant’s) most character-rich creation and as such takes time to get to know, its intricacies and rich narratives revealing themselves slowly.
    "
There is the unnamed figure in 'The pink art deco glow of The Cruise Room' (based on Denver’s Oxford Hotel); 'Aunt Betty' who features in the Mia Farrow horror tribute 'Dandy Star' along with Death and Grant himself; and 'Billy' from the deeply melodic track of the same name that deals with the problem prevalence of hyper-masculinity."

    Jack Vincent in Gigwise: "I have a complicated relationship with psychedelic music. On the one hand, the genre by its very nature encourages an unparalleled freedom of expression that drives to bring music to places it's never been before. However, there’s also the side I like to call ‘harpsichord shit’: a reverence to the past that stymies the creative heart of psych.
    "Albums like Sgt. Pepper's and The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn haven’t aged well, and to copy those sounds in all their corny, nigh-unlistenable glory is folly. Which is why John Grant’s latest album Boy From Michigan has thrown me for a loop as it manages to somehow reconcile these two opposing sides of psych and offer an expansive, personal and for the most part highly enjoyable take on modern psychedelic music."

    The Skinny: "As its title and pared-back cover suggest, Boy from Michigan is a personal, unadorned look into John Grant’s psyche."

    Louder Than War: "The album’s first three songs, the virtually flawless Michigan trilogy, deal with (Grant's) early life period. On the opening track, 'Boy From Michigan', Grant reflects on the sage advice passed to him by his childhood friend on the day of his family’s permanent departure for pastures new in Colorado, 'You’re just a simple boy from Michigan…please don’t ever let your guard down'. The tone is set. The melody in the chorus of that title track, a song destined to become an all-time Grant favourite, is simply memorable. It’s followed by the wonderfully warm and nostalgic 'County Fair', and that, in turn, leads into the third song of the trilogy, 'The Rusty Bull', which throbs and bubbles portentously. At first listen you assume that Grant, just as he did on 'County Fair', is fondly recollecting the special places from his childhood. Then you hear him sing, 'And he visits me while I lie in my bed/He says "your daddy can’t undo what’s done"', and the cold realisation dawns that this twenty-foot bull he is singing about might be something darker and more metaphorical than the gigantic advertising hoardings that sit by the side of the highway."

    In spite of psychedelic rock's tradition, things darker than juvenile book pictures are what's here indeed. Just read the lyrics to "The Only Baby," and realize that it's about the inevitable collective offspring of the white people of old whose personae and collective psyche would be conserved in America's neoliberal Liberty concept to keep on reproducing and multiplying itself and become this socialism-wary, tax-allergic exceptionalist mob that now make up the ludicrous and dangerous half of what could otherwise have been an entirely great American national personality.

Music album

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Deadpan Love

(Release date: 25 June 2021. Label: Cautious Clay. Genres: pop rock, alternative/indie rock, alternative rock, alternative R&B)

ALLMUSIC: "It continues (Cautious Clay's) measured progression as a stylist of mellow pop songs with soul that articulate pensive self-awareness and a level of empathy best summarized in 'Spinner': 'I just wanna spin the truth about the ones I care about/All in the name of sufferin', but I'll see this through.'"

Music album

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Spiral

(Release date: 23 July 2021. Label: Matador. Genres: art rock, neo-psychedelia, krautrock, electronic music)

EXCLAIM!: "Spiral is a soothing balm to nourish and recalibrate all the trauma since the last party ended. More simply, it's a campfire jam session for the apocalypse."
    NME: "‘Spiral’ is a gorgeous, often filmic listen that rewards with each spin. Most importantly, (Nicolas Jaar’s) enhanced vocal role gives a new voice to troubling themes previously suggested in the stirring moods of Darkside’s music. Eight years was worth the wait."

Music album

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Sling

(Release date: 16 July 2021. Label: Fader, Republic, Universal. Genres: contemporary folk music, bedroom pop)

SPUTNIKMUSIC (staff)!: "Sling is very much the anti-Immunity. Whereas that album sang about conflicted feelings over same-sex attraction, Sling looks around at the world and asks why anyone should feel that way."
    Crack: "You could call it a coming-of-age album, but even that feels reductive. Instead, it’s a coming-to-terms album, a focused portrait of a young woman who is finally choosing to treat herself with the generosity that she reserves for those she cares for."

    NME: "On the follow-up to 2019's 'Immunity', Claire Cottrill finds healing and hope in domesticity, as she muses on mental health and burgeoning responsibility."

    The A.V. Club: "Cottrill delivers her most innately beautiful and well-orchestrated album yet, co-producing Sling with one of contemporary pop’s most prominent producers, Jack Antonoff."

    Northern Transmissions: "Jack Antonoff’s thoughtful production does what it’s supposed to do: it gives Clairo a welcome canvas to paint her Bob Ross-esque landscapes upon, idyllic nature scenes that take the listener to the upstate New York studio where they recorded Sling."

    DIY: "Stoic and serene, ‘Sling’ is a brave new chapter that introduces a Clairo transformed."

    Vinyl Chapters: "Clairo has only just made a name for herself a few years ago, but now with this second studio album being released into the world, I wouldn’t be surprised if she becomes one of the next big things."

    Paste: "The rising singer/songwriter tries out a new producer, new sound on her sophomore album."

    Evening Standard: "This is a mature, ambitious album from bedroom pop pioneer Clairo."