Author Archive

Walrus of Sound: DinoWalrus at Galapagos is a Lesson in De-Evolution

Written by Ben Lasman on . Posted in Music, Posts



There are tons of bands with idiotic names. Then there’s the rare instance when one such band creates a sound so meticulous in its batshit ingenuity that it not only transcends the offhand stupidity of the group’s moniker but, in a sublime reversal of expectation, actually justifies it in a way that makes you feel stupid for being so nominally apprehensive in the first place. Thursday night I saw DinoWalrus, from “the County of Kings” at Galapagos in Williamsburg.

But before I actually discuss what DinoWalrus sounds like, let’s parse the etymology a bit more...

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Afro-popped Collars and the Highlife: Orchestra Baobab at River to River

Written by Ben Lasman on . Posted in Music, Posts

I don’t remember the last time I saw dudes in Dashikis dancing alongside briefcase-wielding Wall Street types, but if the U.S. is finally moving towards some kind of cultural/racial reconciliation, then Wednesday’s free show in Rockefeller Park courtesy of Senagalese nonet Orchestra Baobab might have marked a decisive tick on the timeline. Let’s just say the future will be awesome, and will feature tons of bad dancing. Also no booze, per park regulations. A coincidence?

The only thing louder than Orchestra Baobab’s tenor player is the band’s collection of polyester shirts, and the only thing bigger than their Heart of Darkness-deep poly-grooves is their bass player. For a performance conducted entirely in French, Spanish and Wolof, these guys put personality on a pedestal to rival even their thorniest of conga breakdowns...

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BABYLON JIVE: Sci-Fi Fans Send Wacky Mask to the Museum of the Moving Image

Written by Ben Lasman on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts

NYC’s Museum of the Moving Image is the new home of an original, prosthetic mask worn by late actor Andreas Kastulas in his role as Narn ambassador G’Kar on the marathon sci-fi series Babylon 5. This news is probably most exciting for the 11 die-hard fans who, after meeting in a Usenet forum and pooling their finances, purchased the latex artifact off of eBay for an undisclosed sum and donated the prop to the Musuem’s roughly 130,000- item collection of television, film and video apocrypha. For the rest of us, it’s the kind of incident that reinforces the notion that even though people like this are probably crazy and difficult to hang out with, they can still find companionship in one another (online) and come together to do great things (buy souvenirs online)....

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DISC REVIEW: Ponytail’s ‘Ice Cream Spiritual!’

Written by Ben Lasman on . Posted in Posts

Guitars are the new synthesizers. Or synthesizers are the new guitars. Whatever equation you use, the commutative property still applies: the six-string backlog and robotech future of pop music have effectively merged into a single monotone, midrange sonic I have eponymously dubbed the “blurzz”.  From the halls of Justice to the studios of Boris, the [&hellip
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In Farm’s Way: PS1′s Hipster Farm

Written by Ben Lasman on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts

On Sunday, a lot of people with kids, cigarettes and fantastic outfits paid between $2 and $5 to check of the Summer Opening Celebration of Public Farm 1 at PS1 in Brooklyn. Two bands, Hex Message from NYC and Ecstatic Sunshine via Baltimore, played sets of melodic drone under a tarp, and a beer-pavilion served up bottled water and brews in plastic cups.

Public Farm 1 (PF1) by WORK Architecture Company, the winners of this year’s MoMA/PS1 Young Architect’s Program, is a pretty excellent idea whose execution lands somewhere in the middle of sustainable urban agriculture and a Discovery Zone. Essentially a lattice of raised beds in circular containers, the network houses all kinds of crops, has a red periscope attached to its underside and a rainwater pool at its center. Lots of handy information concerning herbs and irrigation techniques can be found in the soggy manuals inexplicably placed in pouches under the water-collection apparatus. The whole thing smells delicious, except for a spacious coop where a collection of fat chickens is housed. At intervals during Sunday’s gala, museum employees would grab a bird and carry it around the courtyard to show to patrons...

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Photo by Gatto Arancione on Flickr
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Custom Taylor: Cecil Taylor at JVC Jazz Fest

Written by Ben Lasman on . Posted in Music, Posts

Cecil Taylor, octogenarian free-jazz originator and pianist nonpareil, played an hour-long  solo set Friday night alongside fellow keyboardist George Cables at the Society of Ethical Culture as a part of the ongoing JVC Jazz Festival. The pairing, despite the unquestionable pedigree of the musicians featured, seemed a little arbitrary in its juxtaposition of sonic philosophies. The magnificent, Ruby Slipper-red Steinway dropped center-stage might as well have been the sole link, instrumentally or ideologically, between the players.

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Crystal Whipped: Crystal Castles and Woodhands at Studio B

Written by Ben Lasman on . Posted in Music, Posts


I’ve never lost my belt at a show before. One would think the strap of leather looped around my pants would would be difficult to remove under any but the most deliberate circumstances. Sadly, to all those concerned about the inalienable security of their trousers, this is not the case. Crystal Castles took my belt away last night without my consent. When I searched for it on the floor of Studio B at the end of their set, it had evaporated.

Ideally, however, every loss carries with it some form of discovery. For example, that this Toronto duo (plus drummer!), whose glitch-tripped remixes and self-wired bangers never really pressed my panic button despite being called things like “Crimewave”, “Air War” and “1991,” can indeed induce 8-bit electrauma with the touch, excuse me, of a button.

Conceptually, the band is spot on. Get some guy in a hood who never looks up to man a buffet table of hardware while a gorgeous, dead-eyed girl stares the audience down shrieking before jumping on them. With this kind of upfront action, it doesn’t really matter that Crystal Castles essentially have one, big song that never changes tempo or dynamics or rhythm. Likewise for their fantastic light show: strobe blasts cut with blazes of hotwired Vegas ticker. Monotony, in this case, is magic.

Photos by Jonny-Leather

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Light Club: Inner/Outer Space at Monkeytown Tonight

Written by Ben Lasman on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts

Williamsburg eatery/artspace Monkeytown hosts the cosmic audio-visual performance Inner/Outer Space in its back room tonight. The show, which launches at 8:30pm, promises to combine NASA archive-combing with the psych imagery of filmmakers Stan Brakhage, José Antonio Sistiaga, Jordan Belson and Jim Davis, in addition to backing tracks via drone disciples Christian Science Minotaur. Contributing to [&hellip
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Scope Too Soon: Telectroscope May Move to Central Park

Written by Ben Lasman on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts

The Telectroscope, a gigantic, gilded optical device that allowed patrons to wave through a table-sized lens at people standing at a similar machine in London between May 22 through June 15, may reappear at another site in the city, although its funders remain mum on when and where. When questioned about the future of his [&hellip
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Lunch, Losing It

Written by Ben Lasman on . Posted in Music, Posts


Lydia Lunch came over from Barcelona Friday night to tell us that she still hates us. Fair enough. Given the wistful fawning old New York’s pan-flash No Wave scene has received of late, it’s safe to assume the crowd on hand at the Knitting Factory, about evenly split between youngish blog-babies and what I can assume is the awkwardly-aging old guard, had paid the $30 entrance in hopes of having not-so-Teenage Jesus tell them to fuck off.

The reformed and reconfigured trio, composed of Lydia and two newly-minted Jerks (one of whom happened to be Thurston Moore), played an adequately rehearsed, not all-that-loud set encompassing the entirety of the original group’s approximately 18 minutes of recorded music. To add an extra two minutes to the show, the band played “Crown of Thorns” twice.

It’s hard gripe with the sonics. Teenage Jesus’ catalog of staccato noise dirges retains its nauseating, tidal momentum, piling up somewhere between the unpretentious breu of vintage punk and a burst sewer line...

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