Book Review: Tape Art – Ideas and Projects

“Tape is the new paint”, say the 3 members of the Klebebande, Bruno Kelberg, Bodo Höbing and Kolja Buttmann, Berlin’s prominent tape art trio.

It’s hard to argue when you consider the accessibility of the art form and the names already familiar with a roll of tape – Aakash Nihalini, Buff Diss, Max Zorn (check out my interview with Max here) and even El Bocho.

Influenced by the people and places they visit, they create installations that range from the literal to the abstract, using a variety of materials they transform their surroundings in original ways, and create new images that excite your imagination.

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They’ve been using this medium for the last 6 years, and their recently released book “Tape Art – Kunst mit Klebeband” (Tape art – Art with Tape) acts as a 101 guide for those looking to get involved, or appreciate the work that’s out there right now.

If you think there’s not much to tape beyond the colour, you’d be very wrong.

The book begins with an outline of the important differences between the brands and types available to artists (it turns out they are plentiful and varied for those still sceptical!) with examples of the best ways to use each.

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The Klebebande

Knowing the differences between each and how to use them is critical when it comes to this art form. Bruno, Bodo and Kolja have you covered with their comprehensive guide to both tape, and instruments for cutting it.

So you’ve got your tape, and knives, what about how to actually use them? That’s covered too. Learn how to cut, make different shapes, use different surfaces and work with them well.

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The book encourages involvement in the scene as well with a detailed and really helpful section entitled ‘Projects’. It quickly becomes apparent that tape isn’t just for clean flat surfaces. It can be installed just about anywhere, fairly quickly (depending on the piece) with really impressive results.

Project ideas with accompanying step-by-step style guides include transforming chairs, denim jackets, tablet covers and even your face (perhaps more conceptual than practical thoigh!) give plenty of inspiration.

Their section on working outdoors using common features of an urban environment is really fascinating, and got me thinking about how easily you could use tape to transform elements of our surroundings.

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The last of the 4 sections of the book moves to demo some of the best tape art work and artists out there at the moment, a mixture of work from the Klebebande and others active in the scene right now.

Some of the pieces in the book really are incredible. It’s often hard to believe that they’ve been created from the humble roll of tape. .

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If you’re still in any doubt about the diversity of this art form, or the effects achievable with the medium, this section puts that to rest.

Art from the likes of Evi Kupfer, Tape That, and No Curves as well as the Klebebande boys themselves go a long way to dispelling any lingering scepticism out there.

Check out this short gallery of some of the most exciting works. Some, but not all, available in this edition.

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Overall, Tape Art is a great read, cutting into the scene and demonstrating the possibilities with an unusual medium and the lengths it has been taken to by some of the most talented artists.

The downside, for now, is that it’s only available in German. Which means as a native English speaker with very basic German, mining that information takes a bit of time, but it’s worth keeping at it.

Your patience will be paid back in full, and with interest!

So get in touch with The Klebebande guys on Facebook or via their website to track down your copy, buy some tape and get experimenting…

Steven
UKB

UKB Guest Mix #35 – Phil Cole [UKB035]

Phil Cole [Konzentrisch/Prisma Music/Kanja Records] steps up for the latest UKB Guest Mix with one hour’s worth of great minimal selections for your ears. This one got me through the darkest of times. Early January!

Phil’s music was introduced to me by previous guest Christian Schiemann, who collaborated with Phil on the Sometimes EP on Kanja Records in 2014.

The Hamburg-born DJ cut his teeth in his hometown, spinning his first records in the city’s Pacha and Halo with the HouseSympartysanten label. But it was the vibrant scene in his hometown of Zurich from 2008, that has impressed him so much to keep him there.

Cole’s tracks are among my favourite in the ‘minimal’ genre, having added more than a few to my own collection. If you like what you hear, make the most of the latest free download from Phil, 25hours, below.

But before you go grab that, be sure to stick this one on and turn it up.

Steven
UKB

Choose blogging (and also UKB, please!)

Well, it’s hardly believable, but it’s been a full 12 months since the last UK Blog Awards public vote.

And, to coincide, it’s my annual plead for voting favours! As with each UK Blog Awards so far, the public vote determines the top 10 blogs to make it to the final, so every vote really does count. This is where you have all so generously lent a hand in the past!

You can cast your vote below, or by clicking on Edinburgh’s famous miscreant, Mark ‘Rentboy’ Renton, here outlining some of the good bad and ugly of blogging…

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UKB again is entered into the Arts & Culture category and has some great competition, including one of my favourite blogs, and last year’s runner up, Hookedblog. So if you are willing to spare your votes (more on that in a bit) for UKB, it would be HUGELY appreciated.

This year, there’s an additional twist. Every day until the deadline on the 25th of January you can cast a vote, so if you really want to give your backing to the blog you can vote every day, if you were so inclined! No pressure mind you, just if you’d like to.

Just one of your votes would be a massive boost, so if you’ve ever liked a blog, or a post on Facebook, or retweeted on Twitter, or double tapped on Instagram, it would be amazing if you could cast your vote for the blog.

That’s enough for now, in the meantime, thanks for reading the blog and supporting it throughout the year, it really means a lot!

Steven
UKB

Kulturcast episode 1: Interview with Fraser Gray

It’s been a long time in coming, but finally I’ve gotten round to recording my first ‘real’ interview podcast, and accompanying video, this week with Fraser Gray – Dundee-born visual artist and arts educator.

As a blog that aims to help promote Edinburgh’s growing public art scene, it felt appropriate to begin with Fraser as one of an increasing number of artists transforming select walls and shutters around the city and its suburbs.

At his new studio at Edinburgh Palette we touched on his roots in graffiti, which led to a Fine Arts education at Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College. These days his work can be found painted onto prominent city centre spots in Leith and Abbeyhill.

We also spoke at length about the creeping marketing influence on murals by larger multinational companies, and the resulting subversion of current advertising laws that are beginning to make some quarters increasingly suspicious of ‘street art’.

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I guess you could say we covered a lot of ground, some specific to Fraser’s work, others less so, but it was all very interesting – a good time and beer was had!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this first episode. Any feedback and suggestions for future podcasts, as ever, gratefully received.

Thanks once again to Fraser and his studio-mate Kyle for allowing me to be generally annoying with my camera and equipment for a good few hours!

Steven
UKB

UKB Guest mix #34 – Sirrahttam [UKB034]

Last week saw the eagerly anticipated launch of Scotland’s newest record label, Jelly Roll Soul. The original output will be guided by the trio behind Stirling and Glasgow’s night of the same name and launched with the varied 3-track Tanz EP from Glaswegian Sirrahttam aka Matt Harris.

A real treat of a release that promises much more from both sides.

With firm roots in the electronic music scenes spawned from Detroit and Chicago, the label will undoubtedly be one to keep an eye on for those who like their house and techno deep and dusty.

I managed to grab a few words with the man behind the first EP to find out more about his past, the EP and other productions, as well as tie him down for an hour long guest mix.

Urban Kultur Blog: For those who don’t know much about you, can you give us a little info about your musical background?

Sirrahttam: I don’t really have a musical background as such, but I got into the Global Underground mix CD series after one of my sister’s friends introduced me to DJs like Danny Tenagalia, John Digweed and Steve Lawler.

Off the back of that I started going to the Arches in Glasgow in about 2000/2001 to the Colours night to see DJs like those, and then about the same time I got a set of decks and started buying records. That’s where it started for me in terms of getting into music.

I got really into going to the Sub Club soon after and got hooked on the sound that was being played by Harri and Domenic and the guests they booked to play. I think that had a huge influence on my record buying.

UKB: And when did you start putting your own productions together?

S: I started experimenting about 4 years ago when I got and old battered Roland Groove box (which I still use today) for a Christmas present. Since then I’ve added a couple of other pieces of kit and just been experimenting with making music.

UKB: So, how did your relationship with Jelly Roll Soul begin? Had you any previous knowledge of the night before being asked to be on their maiden EP?

S: I went to the 1st Jelly Roll Soul night in Glasgow to see Kyle Hall play. That’s the only one of their nights I’ve made it along to so will be cool to play for them again 5 years later!

The JRS guys got in touch with me on Soundcloud after hearing some of the stuff I had been putting on there and they asked me if I’d like to be involved in their label which was in the planning stage – I bit their hand off!

 

“The Jelly Roll Soul guys got in touch after hearing some of my stuff…I bit their hand off!”

UKB: In the Jelly Roll Soul interview for The Skinny the guys mention your sound fits nicely with what is expected of a JRS night, but retains something unique. I actually found it quite hard to explain in words what it’s like, or who else it sounds like, and I like that! What’s the process behind your productions and how have you been working to develop your own sound?

S: Thanks for the compliment!

I try to make tracks that will stand out from other stuff, but at the end of the day all electronic music is borrowing on ideas from the past or being influenced by other sounds in my opinion anyway.

When I first started experimenting I had no way to sample so I was using sounds that were in my Roland Groovebox. That was fine though and as I said earlier I still use that today.

I got myself a Korg ESX a couple of years back which allowed me to add my own samples and that really helped me be much more creative.

I don’t think I have much of a process, I just start to jam with a few samples, mess with pitches and EQs and once I have something I’m happy with I’ll hit record then I’ll play the track in a “live” way.

I’m probably limiting myself by making tracks this way without a computer but I have more fun doing it this way.

UKB: You mention about making stuff that stands out – in the modern age of digital consumption it’s easier and easier for people to get music heard, but harder and harder to set yourself aside like you’ve done with this release. How do you go about it?

S: I think I just try and make tracks that have certain elements that are a bit different than other things out there. Even if the overall track is a house, techno or electro track.

Hunting for samples to use is the most important thing for me when trying to make a track that will stand out.

UKB: There’s often so much emphasis placed on gear, and not on what’s actually possible with it – in this case a great 3 track EP. The JRS guys mentioned that when they play out, they and most of their guests play vinyl. What does the medium mean to you, both when you DJ and in terms of your own release?

S: When I got into DJing I was buying vinyl and continue to do so today.

I just prefer buying records and having something physical to own and collect. I enjoy using records when I play out as opposed to using CDjs or anything like that.

The fact that JRS 1. wanted to put my music out, and 2. it was going to be on vinyl, was such a huge thing for me. It’s been a bit of a dream of mine since I got into making music I think as I’ve been buying records for so long and to have one with my name on it is so surreal but hugely satisfying.

UKB: Moving onto the Tanz EP then, can you tell me a little bit about it and how this body of work came together?

S: It was basically after Jamie at Jelly Roll Soul got in touch and said the guys wanted to put out my stuff.

I think we picked these tracks as they all have different rhythms and styles and I like that when I go to buy records. It’s nice when you have diverse EP.

These were the 3 tracks that we agreed to put on the EP from the label, so I feel really proud about being chosen for the first release.

“We picked these tracks as they all have different rhythms and styles and I like that when I go to buy records. It’s nice when you have diverse EP”

UKB: The EP is great I really enjoyed the variety too. Trees with it’s punchier bass and dusty sound laced with the vocal sample, the dreamier sound of Moving on Slowly, with it’s sort of xylophone-esque sound threaded by synth, and with a similar-ish sound to Trees, Linear Patterns with warbling synth and that kind of old Detroit kick sound. Can you talk me through each of the tracks and tell me a bit about each?

S: So Trees, was made using a sample from and old Maya Angelou vocal snippet and I just wanted to use the energy from that to create a more peaktime thing that could bounce along. Not much to it other than that.

Linear Patterns must have been made on a day when I was feeling making something really nuts! I can’t remember where I sampled from for the intro but it was a disco sample looped and pitched way down and reversed.

Moving on Slowly has a lot of melancholy and was influenced by the Detroit sounds. I won’t go into details but it’s about a relationship!

UKB: It’s really exciting to see your Soundcloud is full of unreleased productions, is there more to come by way of releases, either on the Jelly Roll Soul label or elsewhere? What’s your ambition for your productions?

S: Yeah, I’ve got about another 50 tracks in various states on completeness sitting on my boxes. We will need to see how the 1st release on JRS goes but we have discussed possibly doing another EP in 2016 at some point.

I plan to start sending out my stuff to other labels too at some point but will see how this one goes as I say.

UKB: Are there any other labels or artisits out there at the moment that you admire in particular?

S: Close to home there are a couple of guys I know who I’ve made contact with in the past year or so. Alexander Mcvey who runs his own Andertraxx Label is making some amazing tracks. He did a remix of one of my tracks that got a digital release earlier in 2015 on Cold City Cuts who are a label in Glasgow run by David Fleming.

I also got to know a guy through JRS called Malcolm Bennet. He is making some great stuff too. Very warped house that is right up my street.

Jamie Alexander from Jelly Roll Soul is making some really interesting stuff that I hope to see on their label soon.

If I had to pick 3 labels that I’m into I’d say FXHE, L.I.E.S and Apron.

UKB: Finally, how did your set go at La Cheetah, did your tracks get good support on their first outing?

S: Yeah! I never played my stuff but the residents played Trees as a last track, it was amazing.  It was surreal!

Thanks to Sirrahttam for not only finding time to chat about his music, but also to find time to record an outstanding mix. Keep an eye on all his music on his Soundcloud, and also on Facebook. And chart the progress of Jelly Roll Soul on their new venture on Soundcloud and Facebook too.

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Tracklist

1. Rhythm And Sound – Rise And Praise (Vainqueur Remix)
2. Lord Tusk – Natural Partnership (High Tower remix)
3. Marcellus Pittman – An Afternoons Delight
4. Omar S – Hot Ones Echo Thru the Ghetto
5. Benoit B – Cold Beauty
6. Vangelis Katsoulis – Enigma (Young Marco remix)
7. Minor Science – Glamour
8. Shanti Celeste – SSS (OG Cut)
9. Benoit B – 92 240
10. Rawaat – Caverns of Reflection
11. Steven Simpson – Chicagocid
12. Sirrahttam – Linear Patterns
13. Omar S – Skynet 2 B

Steven
UKB

Currently showing – Meadowbank Velodrome Graffiti Facelift

It was back in September that the WIPE (Work in Progress Edinburgh) group set about giving the tired looking wooden Meadowbank Velodrome in Edinburgh a graffiti-style facelift.

The group of independent artists, creative practitioners, urbanists and activists work collaboratively to improve urban environments, support communities, and make better use of public and vacant spaces through creative and temporary projects – and this was one of their biggest collaborations to date and certainly the most unusual.

So, I hear you ask, why did it take until September to cover one of the more unusual street art projects in my own town. My answer? I was…ummm…letting the paint dry? No, wait…

Nah, I’ve got nothing.

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Anyway, I did finally make it along to check out the work that was on offer from the jam, and shot a short film as opposed to a gallery of photos. Particularly epic was Chris Rutterford’s cycling octopus. Cycling, for obvious reasons, was one of the recurring themes, so it was cool to see a common thread in some of the pieces.

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Largely letter work, the whole site is pretty much covered now, and it really gives the creaking wooden velodrome a more contemporary feel. It’s a real gem of a spot, and it would be a tragedy for this to be lost completely.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video and get to see one of Edinburgh’s more unusual locations in a whole new light. Nice work, WIPE! Looking forward to the next big project.

Steven
UKB