Monday, August 30, 2010

MusicMonday: Of Montreal and Arcade Fire

Yes, yes, this post is about bands and songs that I've already mentioned recently. But really, who reads all my blog posts anyway? And there's some new stuff...

Finally I found a version of the official music video for "Coquet Coquette" by Of Montreal that could be watched in Germany (YouTube blocks it here) and it turns out I actually don't enjoy the cannibalistic, dry-humping video. I wasn't offended, it just didn't speak. But I still love the song.

If you hadn't been able to watch the video on YouTube, you can watch the official "Coquet Coquette" video on vido1 (can't be embedded).

Or just enjoy listening to the song and make up your own images:

In another finally, there is finally an official video for "Ready To Start" by Arcade Fire - it's a live video and actually seems to use the sound from the live recording, which is rather unusual as the official video for a studio single.

They're playing in Berlin tomorrow night - and I missed out on getting tickets in time. Shall I dare to just show up anyway and see if I can buy a ticket of someone there?

For another release from their album Suburbia, "We Used To Wait" they did something really cool together with Google and music video director Chris Milk - an interactive, musical, visual (and nostalgic) experience based on the address of your childhood home - or any address you choose, of course. In my case due to the lack of Google Street View in Germany it made more sense to choose the address of my home during my exchange year, which actually was in Suburbia. Suburbia, FL that is.

(And yes, they got me: I finally installed Google Chrome.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mauerpark Flea Market - In A Berlin Minute (Week 17)

Supposedly there are forty flea markets in Berlin every week - one of the biggest is the Sunday market at Mauerpark (Wall Park), which is a lively park located in an area that once was part of the death strip and the Berlin wall.

The Flohmarkt features not only second hand clothes, records, shoes, cameras, bikes (Scott finally got one), toys, furniture, etc. but also a great selection of crafty designer clothes and other funky items (I'm an instant fan of the Henri Banks collection), a lot of photographs and other art. Thrown into the eclectic mix are food stalls, musicians and people of all walks of life and various states of recovering from Saturday night.

Mauerpark Flohmarkt

And if you've had enough of the flea market, there is always the rest of the park, which on Sundays features a big and extremely popular outdoor karaoke, people juggling fire, traveling "hippie bands", swings with view and lots and lots of people watching.

On that subject, something that struck me again on this recording venture: people in Berlin seem to really hate being photographed or filmed. I spare you all the grumpy faces I caught on camera (although that might make a fun video some day). I find it fascinating how worked up people here get over being in a stranger's picture. New York is full of tourists and other photographers - but I've never heard anyone complain about someone pointing a camera in their direction. We've always just had a laugh.

Could it be because in Germany privacy and a sense of anonymity is so important (the reason why German citizens and politicians are currently freaking out about Google releasing Street View in Germany, why Facebook probably took so long to catch on and why foursquare sounds ridiculous to most Germans)? And by contrast the American takes pleasure in being the center of attention, getting 15 minutes of fame - even if it's just in the photo of a tourist? Or do most people just not care about being seen and captured in a photo while being in public? How do people in other cultures react to being photographed, I wonder?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hape Kerkeling - "Ich bin dann mal weg" ("I'm off then")

Ich bin dann mal weg. Meine Reise auf dem JakobswegIch bin dann mal weg. Meine Reise auf dem Jakobsweg by Hape Kerkeling

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

German comedian Hape Kerkeling's journal of his pilgrimage on the St. James Way (Jakobsweg) in Spain is quite entertaining, enticing, informative and inspiring. But I didn't think it was extraordinarily funny or deeply enlightening.

Monday, August 23, 2010

MusicMonday: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - "Sink / Let It Sway"

I'm going to patiently wait for yet another week before posting a link to the video for "Coquet Coquette" by Of Montreal, because it's still blocked in Germany (it's a YouTube / GEMA thing) and I'm still hoping they'll figure it out or that someone will be so kind to (use TubeTV or the like and) upload the video to Vimeo where everyone can watch... 

Until then, here's a different pretty song: "Sink / Let It Sway" by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. It dosen't have a video at all, but at least I have something to embed and you can get a free download of the "Sink / Let It Sway" mp3 from the record label in return for an email address.

Instead of a video for the song there is this charming and personal making-of video for the album "Let It Sway". Of course, I love the DIY feel of it all (the video and their approach of making the album).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tempelhof Airport - In A Berlin Minute (Week 16)

Picnic on an abandoned air field.

Tempelhof Airport - In A Berlin Minute (Week 16) [HD] from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

A few years after planes stopped taking off from the historic (and at times controversial) Flughafen Berlin-Tempelhof, this summer the centrally located city airport opened as a public park. Vast fields, wide tarmacs, grass pushing through cracked asphalt - perfect for riding bikes, flying kites, walking a group of Dachshunde and meeting friends. Thanks to Andreas Rohde and Andreas Janke I joined a big group last weekend for a fun picnic right off the tarmac.

It felt a little odd to have a park that mostly lacks trees, bushes or hills - so you can see the entire park at once, which makes walking across it a little daunting. But zooming around on Marisa's bike I easily made it over to the empty airport building (once among the 20 largest buildings on Earth) and realized that the lack of trees is made up by the abandoned airplanes.

Abandoned plan on Tempelhof Airport

Two nights ago I finally bought a bike (Summer, please don't be over. People of Berlin, please don't steal my bike.). Now I can't wait to ride down to Tempelhof airport this weekend.

Monday, August 16, 2010

MusicMonday: Sleigh Bells - Rill Rill

The song "Rill Rill" by Brooklyn-based duo Sleigh Bells has been around since last year under the title "Ring Ring". Apparently it was remastered under a new name for their debut full-length album Treats released this summer. I love how light and rhythmic this song is.

Unfortunately there still isn't a music video for it. As a matter of fact I've been disappointed in not finding any music videos for most of the songs I've liked recently. I know, I know, no money in music videos, no money in the music industry, it's all about the music, not the videos, etc, etc. But I really like music videos - I'm actually waiting for the video of my currently favorite song to come out later this week...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Olafur Eliasson, Not Frida Kahlo - In A Berlin Minute (Week 15)

Olafur Eliasson, not Frida Kahlo!

This week, Scott and I tried to get into the exhibit of the famous Mexican painter Frida Kahlo - on its last day at Martin-Gropius-Bau. When we joined the long line in the morning, the wait time turned out to be 8 hours. Our patience lasted about 15 minutes when we realized that the exhibit of the Icelandic-Danish large scale sculpture and public space artist Olafur Eliasson was also on its last day - and didn't have a wait at all.

Olafur Eliasson, Not Frida Kahlo - In A Berlin Minute (Week 15) [HD] 

The Eliasson exhibit was beautiful, surprising and interactive - and, of course, much larger than what I captured on my iPhone (unfortunately my little point'n'shoot camera I'd been using for all my videos, broke this week).

Two summers ago we had biked to all the stunning, yet controversial, waterfalls Eliasson built around New York City - so it was extra special to see some of his smaller scale work here in Berlin.

Work by Olafur Eliasson

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Porkfish Animation & Alex Brüel Flagstad & Agnes Obel

As expected, since moving to Berlin I've met some really cool creative people. Also not very surprising, they come from all over the world - for example Denmark.

A few weeks ago I produced an EPK for the Danish singer Agnes Obel, whose music I had admired for a while. In the process of shooting the interview, I got to take a peek into the studio of porkfish, the animation company of imaginative Danish filmmaker Alex Brüel Flagstad.

I was very impressed by how innovative and entertainingly quirky the combination of usually cutsey claymation and urban music and themes and even violence are.

Check out the porkfish showreel with excerpts from various projects.

Visit the porkfish website (or on facebook) for more information, to get in touch with Alex and to find out when he's finished with his latest animation short film (I've seen the set, I think it's going to be awesome!).

Showing a completely different style, Alex also just directed the hauntingly beautiful, atmospheric and "old world feel" music video for the Agnes Obel single "Riverside".

The album will be released in September in Europe. A few of the songs, including "Riverside" are available on European iTunes now. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

MusicMonday: Vampire Music

HBO often feature excellent music, so it's not surprising that the vampire show True Blood doesn't just have a fittingly steamy title song ("Bad Things" by Jace Everett), but also cool and eclectic soundtracks. Especially this season has had some fantastic songs over the credits.

Somewhat more surprising has been the excellent choice in music for the teen Vampire movie series The Twilight Saga. While the movies are mainstream and conventional (some may even say dumbed down), the soundtracks have been quite a bit more cutting edge.

In both cases the artists are not completely unknowns, but through these soundtracks they're being introduced to a wider audience. Also, to my delight, a lot of them I really like. 

Here are a few of my favorites from the three seasons of True Blood* and the three Twilight movies (in no specific order):

True Blood (Season 3) - "Hitting The Ground Running" by PJ Harvey and Gordon Gano

True Blood (Season 3) - "Hell's Bells" by Cary Ann Hearst

True Blood (Season 1) - "Far, Far Away" by Wilco

Twilight: New Moon (2) - "Hearing Damage" by Thom Yorke

Twilight: New Moon (2) - "Possibility" by Lykke Li

* In case you're interested you can watch a 1-minute video of our weekly True Blood viewing ritual as part of my weekly video series "German New Yorker in Berlin".

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ciao Kreuzberg - In A Berlin Minute (Week 14)

Ciao Kreuzberg - In A Berlin Minute (Week 14) [HD] from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

This week we said Ciao to Kreuzberg - for now anyway.

After two great months in the former West Berlin neighborhood Kreuzberg and the previous month in the adjacent Kreuzkölln (really Neukölln, but I'm down with the hipster names - even if my old-school friends sneer at those monikers), Scott and I moved to the former East Berlin neighborhood Mitte for another 3 months. I can't say much about Mitte yet except that it's truly right in the middle of Berlin.

This video celebrates Kreuzberg one more time - and introduces a fantastic musical discovery: When asking my local friends for a Kreuzberg or Berlin song, Ralf Zwiebel (guitarist of Radiopilot) pulled out this amazing gem: "Berlin - New York". If only my show was longer, I'd totally want this as my theme song. As it is, I can't even fit the whole song into my 1-minute video.

So far the song hasn't been released yet. So I feel very fortunate to be able to premiere an excerpt of it as part of my video. But I'm sure if you leave some comments here, we can convince the powers that be to release it somewhere in its entirety.

Oranienstrasse - Kreuzberg, Berlin

Monday, August 2, 2010

MusicMonday: Beach House - "Zebra"

With all the moving from Kreuzberg to Mitte and setting up an office and home all over again and trying to get work done in the middle of it all, it pretty much slipped my mind that on Mondays I usually post a song I like on my blog.

Fortunately, Debbie just reminded me that it's Music Monday when I mentioned that I had bought Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" today* and she was in the process of purchasing some (still undisclosed) music herself.

So real quick: here is the beautiful song "Zebra" by Baltimore duo Beach House - a song that I discovered and fell in love with fairly recently, even though I've had the album "Teen Dream" for several months already. So yes, Judith, you're right, it's not such a great idea to get too many albums at the same time - but better to space them out a bit.

I'll soon get back to this band in a future post about something that deserves its own heading. And I don't mean that I'll be writing about the web show / video podcast "The Interface" (from which this video is taken) - even though I do highly recommend that show and watch it regularly myself. But it may be about something somewhat similar...

* I got the cover with the big palm tree on the left. It reminded me the most of Florida, where I first was confronted with the concept of the suburb.