Light A Match, Start A Fire: Michael Gira Talks To George Skafidas

Photography by Zach Gross
Photography by Zach Gross

Slow-moving and punitive; visceral and crushing; dour and blatant; repetitive and atonal; never played the same way twice; constantly trans- forming into whatever is next; a process of discovery for its creators as well as its audience: the music of Michael Gira, and in particular his creative output with Swans—the band he birthed, bore, buried and brought back to life over the course of three decades—is disorienting and destabilising. With themes that plumb the depths of human depravity, it even touches on the horrifying. Yet for those who imagine music as a redemptive, transformative, epiphanic experience, Swans occupies a sort of holy space in the artistic cosmos. Continue reading “Light A Match, Start A Fire: Michael Gira Talks To George Skafidas”

The Rebel Abides: In Search of Ben Wallers

Photography by Jesper List Thomsen

Even by the generous standards of modern garage lo-fi hipsteria, Benedict Roger Wallers seems inept and incongruous; a charismatic lone wolf in a cowboy hat or trilby and a tie whose electrified howls are too idiosyncratic to be broken down into market-oriented terms. It is difficult to sketch a thumbnail summary of a musician who has amassed a vast and unwieldy discography under a variety of names and genres: the most widely acclaimed is probably the Country Teasers, but he also moonlights as, or in, the Rebel, the Company, the Male Nurse, the Beale, the Stallion, the Black Poodle and Skills on Ampex, across folk, country, garage, post-punk, no wave and electronic pop. Continue reading “The Rebel Abides: In Search of Ben Wallers”

“It’s StIll Amateur Hour Round Here” Eric Isaacson talks to Bill Kouligas

Dead Moon "In the Graveyard", MR089, 2011

Much is disputed or simply unknown about the mysterious, iconic label Mississippi Records, but a few facts are clear. Based on Mississippi Avenue in Portland, Oregon, like its namesake record shop, the label has spent most of the last decade releasing and selling fine vinyl-only releases and reissues of roots, gospel and unclassifiable obscurities, alongside essential new music from the lively art-punk scene. Eric Isaacson, one of the three dedicated people running the label, insists, “It’s still amateur hour round here.” We are inclined to disagree, but when J. Spaceman describes Mississippi’s output as “unbelievably beautiful”, who are we to argue? Continue reading ““It’s StIll Amateur Hour Round Here” Eric Isaacson talks to Bill Kouligas”

Seriousness, Consequence and Prudence


As with any urban subculture, to really understand what the Mangas is about, one has to dive into his music. Rebetika (the plural of rebetiko) were folk songs of the urban Greek underclass that had been played and sung at least the first half of the 20th century. Starting around the late 20s and through the early 40s, a style came out into full power in the port cities of Greece, especially Pireaus, as part of the culture of Mangas, who circulated through the the taverns and small illegal hashish dens. The music favored by the demimonde were elegant and unpretentious songs which spoke directly to the heart of the listeners, often referring directly to lives of crime, getting stoned, heartbreak, getting arrested, and the search of peace and autonomy outside the mainstream society. Continue reading “Seriousness, Consequence and Prudence”

A Study of the Mangas

“A mangas is distinguished by three basic principles: seriousness, consequence and prudence,” Takis Binis, the famed rebetiko musician, has said. The mangas’ street philosophy is based on the calculable relativity of life. He has a good time and takes his pleasure very seriously. He knows when to open his mouth and when to keep it shut. He keeps a low profile – he does not need the limelight. He is “heavy”. He respects others and commands respect in turn. He does not bother and does not like to be bothered. He will not hesitate to speak his mind, nor to take the law into his own hands, when it is the only way. He smokes his hashish in a waterpipe and rolls his tobacco in newspaper. He has a double-edged knife. He dances, alone. He is of the night. Continue reading “A Study of the Mangas”

Texas Is The Reason

Photography by Socrates Mitsios

Josh T. Pearson looks a lot like Jesus, if Jesus came from Texas. He is a tall, broad-shouldered, magnificently bearded, twill-and-cowboy-boot-rocking dead ringer for the Son of God. Some years ago, he was the singer in a band called Lift to Experience. They released just one record – The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, a terrifying, glorious augury of death, destruction, exodus and apocalypse – and promptly suffered death and destruction of their own before melting back into the Texan desert. Continue reading “Texas Is The Reason”