Edinburgh’s Bold Town

Following the recent “Bold Town” graffiti jam organised by local art supplies store Spectrum Arts, Edinburgh’s Old Town has seen a glut of impressive new public artwork appear to the delight of many, not least workers who traipse these drab roads to and from the headquarters of Edinburgh City Council.

With a number of ‘arches’ providing the unusual canvas for the local and not-so-local talent in addition to the straightforward wooden boards guarding the impending Caltongate development site, this latest layer of paint displays some fantastic talent in the capital.

Among the standouts are the Toasters trio, with an abstract angle on everyone’s favourite household appliance.

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Edinburgh’s seemingly becoming favourite destination of theirs having chosen the city for the Toaster Tuesday giveaway back at the start of the year, which UKB nabbed the only one on offer. A number of their sticker pieces have also become more frequent across town. I could be wrong, but I think this is one of the first larger scale pieces from them in the capital. Anyone with a better knowledge of their previous conquests in Edinburgh feel free to correct me here…

Glasgow-based Rogue One decorated one of the arches with homage to cult film protagonist Donnie Darko, in his signature photorealistic approach. Well known in public art circles for some of his larger works, particularly in Glasgow, it’s great to see some paintings through on the east coast.

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Work in Progress Edinburgh (WIPE) co-founder and local artist Chris Rutterford, displayed Scotland’s official animal, the unicorn, with a really interesting technique. As an aside, it still baffles me how our official animal isn’t actually an animal at all…all very evocative though.

Nevertheless a really cool piece of work. In many ways it reminds me of guys like Jimmy C and El Mac whose work is built up from specific geometric shapes or smaller elements that when put together form an impressive whole. Jimmy C’s circular spray can drips and El Mac’s overlaid concentric circles and lines are well worth taking a look at to appreciate that approach.

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Hope there’s more to come from these places, it really feels that since groups have taken ownership of organising jams and other events we’ve seen how they can be used for the better.

However with impending gentrification, these events could well have their days numbered. The offer of big money investment (£150m) over local artistic endeavour looks likely to be one too good to refuse for this area, traditionally something of a no man’s land…

Steven
UKB

ItaloJohnson @ The Mash House [Lezure]

Relatively new on the Edinburgh circuit, Lezure aren’t mucking about when it comes to booking guests.

Starting strong with Marquis Hawkes [Houndstooth] and following with Jeremy Underground [My Love is Underground] these guys know what they’re doing, and where they’re going with their night.

And while you’re going for a hat-trick in this manner, there’s no point going for the simple tap in. Sticking anonymous trio ItaloJohnson behind the decks for 4 hours was a screaming volley into the top corner from 30 yards out…to utilise over-enthusiastic footballing parlance.

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Dubbed as ‘one for the heads’ and with a high quality RA mix from 2014 and Boiler Room appearance (below) to get in the mood, this was definitely one that needed checking out. The trio have a reputation for letting the music talk, no fuss, no egos in the way, as evidenced by their ‘anonymous’ public image and no frills vinyl series.

Behind the decks the b2b2b set up was seemless, while one mixed, the other two nodded and danced, knocking back beers like those down the front.

And while many of the night’s memories for me are stuck somewhere at the bottom of a number of beer bottles, a couple were made of stronger stuff, staying with me well through the inevitable lifeless lull of Saturday.

Firstly, the place was firmly on the upswing by about midnight, the Mash House’s bar area was unusually quiet, the selections from the main room too much to resist. Among a number of harder house and softer techno tracks, ItaloJohnson weaved their way through a pretty epic set that it seemed no-one was in the mood to miss.

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Secondly, the crowd reacted positively to pretty much every track change, but especially well to a couple of standouts.

Dusky’s 17 Steps material went down a storm. Inta was blowing minds and, probably, the doors off the place at one point with a soundsystem that, to my ears, is one of the best going in Edinburgh. A common occurrence throughout the evening though. Incredible stuff from start to finish.

I honestly can’t remember enjoying a set that much for some time. Having been behind the decks of Trouw, Fabric and Panorama Bar it shouldn’t really have been unexpected.

Excited to see what Lezure come up with next. Keep it going lads.

Steven
UKB

UKB Guest Mix #28 – Mad Alba [UKB028]

Detroit business. Unlock the sounds of the Motor City with Mad Alba [Detroit Techno Militia].

With musical inspirations drawn through various genres of dance, rock and punk (among others) Mad Alba found her home when surrounded by the four to the floor beat of techno, fully immersed in club-culture.

Born and raised in Bari and honing her DJ skills through the local scene, Mad Alba made the move to the other home of techno, Berlin, with a conscious decision to only spin vinyl.

This purist approach solidified her status as a truly underground DJ and led to the hot seat of ://about blank and Tresor, a club whose history ties in well to her approach to techno. Much more than just a musical genre.

A social phenomenon and lifestyle.

Crucial in developing this personal mantra was her time in Detroit where she could be found behind the decks at The Works and Exodus in collaboration with DJ Seoul and Tom Linder of Detroit Techno Militia. Holding fort at Homopatik in her adopted home, she’s also on the roster of Bang Tech 12 as well as the highly respected Detroit Techno Militia as of April 2014.

Her first foray into production is available on vinyl, Arkita001, on Arkita Rec (Berlin), the label that she co-owns with Synkopheit. Enjoy this high-energy hour of top drawer techno selections from one of the respected DTM crew.

This one goes gets straight to work, strap in.

Like what you hear? Check out more at the following places…

www.soundcloud.com/madalba
www.detroittechnomilitia.com/main/index…d-alba-bio ww
w.residentadvisor.net/dj/madalba

Steven
UKB

Mr Penfold – Tabs, Butts and Dog Ends

Running from the beginning of April until last weekend, Mr Penfold’s latest solo show “Tabs, Butts and Dog Ends” follows the theme of, well…tabs, butts and dog ends. The clue’s in the name, right?

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Last time I spoke with Mr Penfold was back in 2013 as he was preparing for a show in Camden, exhibiting some of his more abstract works, at a time when they were beginning to creep into more of his street compositions.

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Fast forward to 2015, and this latest exhibition at Graffiti Life, and a further step in the progression of his work.

Straddling a line between the abstract and illustrative, his latest exhibition stepped further away from the distinctive, rich and playful characters that many (including myself) got to know and love, and move further towards minimal, stylised designs and more intricate illustrations.

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The series of  A4 sized ink line drawings of various smoking paraphernalia and other more abstract representations were among my favourite, maybe because they were not really what I was expecting to see. The series “Match Study 1” worked well as a body of work, but equally as well individually. This simplistic style with clean, dark  lines and minimal fuss really appeals to me.

Penfold also got to grips with the walls within Graffiti Life with 3 pieces in situ, making the most of the space to display larger versions of his framed work. His giant cigarette (below) was really nice, and for me it stuck out as one of the best in the exhibition. Again the bold colours, clean lines and uncomplicated style are spot on.

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Finally these squashed up ‘dog ends’ were closer to the Penfold style I was used to, with characteristic colours and an almost playful style similar to his characters. I wondered if this was part of the idea, transferring that playfulness from his curvy, purple-nosed artistic offspring, to the inanimate and stripped-back cigarette?

Maybe I was reading too much into it…

Regardless, assessing them on a solely visual level, I would love to have a few of these for my own four walls.

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Overall I really enjoyed the exhibition, and hopefully some of you got a chance to take it in before it closed late last week.

I’m really excited to see what he comes up with next on the street. It’s been a little while since I’ve seen any of his work in the flesh in London (or anywhere for that matter) and based on the evidence set out in this exhibition there could be some really nice stuff in the pipeline!

Check out more from Mr Penfold on his website. Like his style? Penfold was also involved with Edinburgh based clothing company Pieute, designing their signature tees.

Have a look and support the guys!

Steven
UKB

Back in ‘Old London’ – art, music and the UK Blog Awards

It’s come around pretty quickly!

To think it was around 4 months ago when the UK Blog Awards final shortlist was announced is hard to believe, and tonight (17th May) the winner is announced at a ceremony at the Montcalm Hotel, near Marble Arch..

The Arts & Culture (Individual) shortlist is particularly impressive this year with street art aficionados “Hookedblog” and “Dutch Girl in London” just 2 out of the 10 or so blogs that will be vying for the coveted title. Regardless of results, it’ll be a great night and I’m really looking forward to celebrating another year of blogging!

As a result, this means that I had Friday morning to wander the streets and see what had gone up in east London since my last visit in late 2014.

Some great new stuff has appeared, as well as some older pieces that have slipped by on previous visits. You can check out some of my favourites from what caught my eye below…

There are few artists who have become as synonymous with the city that they work in as Stik. Placed off Brick Lane, this work, although definitely not recent is certainly still relevant, and amazingly powerful for such a minimalistic approach.

With an ongoing election campaign in the UK by the questionable UK Independence Party doing it’s best to undo the progress made in the country with regards to immigration and integration, it’s a good reminder that many of our towns and cities are greatly enhanced by it’s immigrant population.

Shok-1’s bones dominate one of the tube carriages at the Village Underground, a place I’m yet to venture into, but always find time to check out their showpiece wall.

The heart painting he completed just off Brick Lane is a stunning example of his work. The way he uses the paint to create a sort of x-ray effect is really impressive.

The almost smokey effect at the top left and right somehow makes it feel even more realistic and life like.

As I stood taking some photos whille dodging oncoming traffic (soaking up the standard incredulous stares from taxi drivers) I was waiting for it to suddenly jolt and start beating.

I get a thrill when I stumble upon some of Eine’s work when down here, the local graffiti writer turned internationally renowned street artist thanks to it (probably) hanging within spitting distance of Obama’s office in the White House.
Two things I really like in street art: bold lines and bright block colours. This has it in abundance. I genuinely never tire of checking out his letters!

An artist I’ve not been especially familiar with, but will most definitely be seeking out more from is Gary MSK. Initially I’d tagged this as Eine, there’s definite similarities, and both are really tight pieces. Bold colours and clean lines dominate with messages that sort of allow you to make up your own mind.

The last few times I was in London I’d completely forgotten about the car park at the south end of Brick Lane. It’s always crammed with great stuff and this time was no different.

While hanging about there taking a few photos, I bumped into a fellow enthusiast and had a good 30 minute conversation about art, music and everything in between. Not standard car park chat, that’s for sure!

Right next to us stood Fanakapan’s unbelievable realistic silver helium balloons. They made we want to try and stick a pin in them, but something tells me it wouldn’t have done much…

Similarly, this from (what I think is) the Horror Crew, is just crazy. The only shame is that more people won’t see this incredibly detailed and delicate work.

Pop art Kim-Jong Un. Nothing more neeeds to be said here, I think you’ll agree.

Interesting message at the top left here which read, “is mayonnaise an instrument?”.

Answers on a postcard please, let’s sort this out once and for all.

Finally, for now, another all from James Cochrane aka Jimmy C. It’s his portrait work that captures my imagination the most.

Although I enjoyed what I’ve seen of his recent foray into painting street scenes, I feel like his work is most effective when concentrating on people, relationships and their emotions.

Anyway, plenty more to share so keep an eye out on the usual outlets including here on the blog as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

Keep your fingers crossed for tonight, follow all the action on the hashtag #UKBA2015!

Steven
UKB

UKB Guest Mix #27 – Sheik [UKB027]

When I spoke to Sheik about recording a mix for UKB, it couldn’t have been better timed. With exclusives to share, and a desire to express an experimental and techno edge that gets less air time than his grime  side, this mix was the ideal outlet.

Coming in at just under an hour, with a big tracklist filled with his own impressive productions and tracks from the likes of Zed Bias and Theo Parrish, it’s quite something.

UKB027 captures everything that this mix series is about – diversity, quality and above all good music.

Based in London with releases on District Sound and Bumps, Sheik also find time to run his themed vinyl-only podcast series “SH!”, providing an opportunity for vinyl aficionados to share their fine collections online.

Like what you hear? There’s plenty more at the usual places:
https://soundcloud.com/sheikmusicldn
https://www.facebook.com/sheikdsmusic
https://shmusictalks.wordpress.com/

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Tracklist

1. Theo Parrish – Ah
2. Zed Bias – Ooh
3. Pearson Sound – Quivver
4. Sheik – 5151 (instrumental)
5. Beneath – WIP
6. Todd Sines – Eda
7. Sheik – Gutterfunk
8. Theo Parrish – Dusty Cabinets
9. Armando – Confusion’s Revenge
10. Drexciya – Bang Bang
11. Sweet Exorcist – Jack Jack
12. Sheik – Her
13. St Germain – Rose Rouge
14. Trus’me – Shakea Body (Terrence Dixon Remix)
15. Darko Esser – Lost in Time
16. Mono Junk – Another Acid
17. Fraxinus – All Ends
18. Donor – Fault is Found
19. Mumdance & Logos – Drum Boss​

Steven
UKB