‘minor axioms of major importance’
In October 2019 I travelled to the Lake District in the North West of England, my first visit for some years. Accommodation was a rented cottage overlooking lake Coniston whose waters reflected the tones and activity of the overarching skies; one moment aggravated by the falling rain, in another glinting back transient sunlight from whence it came. On the far shore stood a grand country house, at dusk the golden lights from its windows calling out invitingly when not obscured by autumn mist. This is Brantwood, former home of John Ruskin and the catalyst for the visit, for a few weeks home to Russell Mills’ installation, Happenstance.
The experience lives up to all expectations. Vast canvasses have been submitted to diverse chemical processes, layers of accident creating abstract landscapes that inexplicably capture the essence of the surrounding natural environment, both elemental and beautiful. Some of the works have been partially cut up into tiny squares and reassembled as mosaics. Man seeking to impose order on that which chance created. Other pieces incorporate tape measures, referencing our irresistible drive to codify everything we encounter. The atmospheric soundtrack created by Mills and Mike Fearon envelops the viewer as each piece is contemplated.
Continue reading “Epiphany”
‘fear, anger and paranoia’
In 1995 Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails won a Grammy award for their live performance of the song ‘Happiness in Slavery’ as captured on Woodstock ’94. The category was ‘Best Metal Performance’. I’m not sure anyone watching the recording – with its military assault on the senses and body-surfing audience – would have seen a possible David Sylvian collaboration on the horizon for one of the musicians.. ..but that was how things panned out. Chris Vrenna had been a performing member of NIN since 1989, contributing powerful drums to their hard-edged live industrial rock sound. Continue reading “Linoleum”
‘Stealthily as perfume..’
Like many fans of Japan, my first exposure to the work of Russell Mills was the cover of their post-split compilation on Virgin Records, Exorcising Ghosts, released late in 1984 after Sylvian’s solo debut Brilliant Trees had hit the record stores. In those pre-CD, pre-download days the artwork was such an integral part of the experience of a new release. A glorious gatefold with carefully crafted typography and art by Mills. I loved how tactile the image seemed, even when reproduced in the gloss of an album sleeve.. ..so expressive, suggestive of something natural and elemental. Continue reading “How Safe is Deep?”