Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged avant garde

Isabella Blow: A Life in Fashion

Before Lady Gaga adorned her poker face with a diamond-encrusted lobster, there was the original eccentric fashionista Isabella Blow, the flamboyant muse to couture designers who, despite being the toast of London’s glitterati, would die at age forty-eight by her own hand. As a fashion director, she survived as one of Anna Wintour’s assistants to later become champion of the avant garde. From hot pink cobwebs to towering peacock feathers, there was nothing that Blow wouldn’t dare crown herself with.

A Decade of Negative Thinking: Essays on Arts, Politics, and Daily Life

A Decade of Negative Thinking is a collection of essays on feminism, paintings, and feminist art history. As a teacher of graduate students, Schor’s experience provides us with practical and theoretical background to an artist’s commitment to contemporary art. The main theme of the study encompasses the ideas and images from Schor’s earlier life that were significant in influencing her artistic direction.


My partner, Jake Barningham, is an avant garde film and video maker. He’s constantly on the prowl for new ways to express himself visually. Most recently it has been creating videos with his cell phone camera. I really like the idea of using something so accessible and widely used like a cell phone to create art.

Arminico Hewa

When I was twenty, I flew off to Japan one spring with a stated mission “to be alone.” While this may sound more glamorous than it actually was, I did accomplish my goal. Unable to speak to anyone, wandering between cities and sights in dazed confusion, I was undeniably alone. It was either the best ten days of my life or the strangest—and really, it was probably both. Japanese band OOIOO recreate the strangeness of that experience.

TV is My Parent

Sia's latest release is a concert DVD called TV is My Parent, which includes a set from her concert at the Hiro Ballroom in New York, four music videos, and traditional "behind the scenes with the band" footage. While I'm a big fan of Sia's quirky avant-garde pop, a concert DVD isn't usually something I would pick up. If I already have the music on CD, why do I need lower quality versions punctuated with inaudible on-stage banter?

Snowflakes and Carwrecks

Once you’ve mastered an instrument, you have two choices: move on to another, or tinker with the one you know and love. No stranger to critical acclaim, German composer and avant garde pianist Volker Bertelmann’s work as Hauschka makes use of the latter technique.

Offend Maggie

Some people find Deerhoof unlistenable, with sometimes manic, screeching vocals over strange instrumentation. Some critics think they're twee, and some think they’re the best of noise rock. Most cannot slap a genre label on this expectation-bending band. There is occasional yelling and human-made sound effects, "Beep beep!" You have no idea where the songs will go, or when they will end.

Saint Dymphna

Saint Dymphna is the patron of those stricken with mental illness or nervous system disorders, epileptics, mental health professionals, happy families, incest victims, and runaways. The saint was martyred by a recently widowed father. He’d made advances at her and she ran away to Belgium with her confessor, the court jester, and his wife. The elderly priest and Dymphna were slaughtered, but they don’t say what happened to the jester. St. Dymphna’s attributes include appearing praying in a cloud surrounded by lunatics wearing golden chains.


With Kandinsky on the cover and a name like Vertigo Butterfly, I desperately wanted to like 1932. But I couldn’t. Maybe the music is too moody. Maybe I had secretly hoped for some type of Jen Wood impersonation. Maybe I just couldn’t get past the operatic dramatic voice of Luray Hodder Kuca. Whatever it was, 1932 was a Black Tuesday for me – it just crashed. The arrangements are good – fantastic even. John Kuca, Jr does an excellent job putting together the instrumentation and backing vocals.

Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner

The self-proclaimed neat-freaks in Victoria, British Columbia-based quartet Shapes and Sizes have crafted a genre defying sophomore album that begs you to rethink the way that you listen to music. Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner is a perfectly whimsical combination of lowbrow tartiness and heartfelt emotional awareness. Released on Sufjan Stephen’s label, Asthmatic Kitty Records, Split Lips is already eligible for a Quebec Independent Music Award.

Remixed & Covered

“Experimental” and “avante garde” may be the best ways to describe a band like Xiu Xiu. In earlier years their albums have come across as mind-boggling, nearly indescribable noise. Their newest release, Remixed & Covered, offers up some big-named friends that help decode the language that is Xiu Xiu. Some may call it pretentious and others may question its integrity, but it can certainly be said that credibility is brought to this double disc by the likes of Devendra Banhart, Gold Chains and Kid 606, to name a few.


I have to admit, I was a bit concerned when I hit play on the first song of OOIOO’s album, Taiga. I’m not one to discredit noise as a musical form; I even own an album or two by Agoraphobic Nosebleed. However, there’s only so much “noise as art” that I can take at a time, and as the droning and incoherent screams of “UMA” came rushing into my headphones, I was seriously contemplating the ibuprofen in the bathroom cabinet. Luckily, the repetitive yelps of the first song are not present throughout, and there are some good moments.