Thursday, June 16, 2022

Northwest Terror Fest at Neumos & Barboza: Jun 30 - Jul 2

Last encountered in their 2019 edition, Northwest Terror Fest returns the first weekend of July to Neumos and Barboza. As with many festivals and arts events, the 2020 edition was postponed with the intent on returning when the global pandemic abated. This fourth installment arrives after its successful first set of years, showcasing some of the most potent sounds from the heavier end of the 21st century issuing from the mutating offshoots of black metal. The related global scene's ongoing and burgeoning development has come to encompass melodicism and atmospheres lifted from shoegaze and spacerock, eruptions of heavy psych rock, industrial drumming, electronic atmospheres, and pure experimental noise. The expansiveness of this sound is further detailed in Brad Sanders' essential overview, "Untrue And International: Living in a Post-Black Metal World". Beyond this primer, deeper reading and curation from this spectrum can be found in the past decade of excellent selections in The Quietus' Columnus Metallicus column, covering releases dominantly sourced from labels like, Hydrahead, Ipecac, Deathwish, 20 Buck Spin, Sargent House, Profound Lore, Season of Mist, Roadburn, Flenser, Neurot and Relapse. An all-things-metal festival with a previous Southwest iteration, Terror Fest's three days host a lineup featuring no small quantity of metal issuing from this particular low-lit landscape of black and doom metal mutations. Initially launched under the opportunity to, "Bring Warning to America: An Interview with Terrorfest founder David Rodgers", Rodger's wider curatorial vision for the festival, was detailed in Decibel's, "It's Good to Have Goals and Dreams Can Come True", and in a 2019 interview, the festival's co-organizer Joseph Schafer describing how "The Third Time (Is Still) the Charm". This year's lineup encompasses everything from gloaming atmospheric ambiance and doom riffs, blistering thrash and hardcore, and heavy psych rock, dark pagan and neofolk explorations. Making for a cross-genre spectrum of metal sounds and weighty atmospheres to be heard in sets from almost forty acts, in six showcases, spanning three nights.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

David Cronenberg's "Crimes of the Future" at SIFF Cinema: Jun 3 - 23

When the competition and program for this year's Cannes Film Festival was announced, it read like "The Alpha Auteurs Lining Up for a Post-Lockdown Party", as The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw put it. Among them, it was as though "David Cronenberg has Practically Become Bionic Now", with his newest work as a expansion and summation of his decades-spanning volume of film that pushed the conceptual and sensory relationship to the body, by delivering us his "Post-Pain, Post-Sex Body Horror Sensation", that is "Crimes of the Future". There's a logic to Cronenberg first conceiving the film's premise at the end of the 20th century; in which humankind has spontaneously mutated to generate new organs and alter itself in response to a changing toxic and synthetic environment. Among the other byproducts of this not-too-distant future is that the human body has become so changed, and amorphous, that pain is nearly extinct. It was that era, from the mid-1990s to the earliest 2000s that Cronenberg most clearly defined his brand of cerebral, carnal cinema, expanding on the initial plumbing of the future-body seen in "Videodrome" and "Dead Ringers", the decade before. Through a set of films, David Cronenberg fleshed out his preoccupations with the human body and the ways in which it would come to intersect with the social mechanisms and advanced technology of the modern world. The underground society of deviant sybarites, where machinery and injured appendages collide in “Crash”, and the mind deranging high stakes enhanced-reality gaming of “eXistenZ", both felt disturbingly prescient, and feature an unnerving, and enticing eroticism that draws you into their Ballardian intellectual premises.

Set in a haunted post-collapse Athens that troublingly mirrors the darkened, waste strewn streets, and huddled figures occupying the shadows of many of the major cities of the world during the current coronavirus pandemic, much of "The Horror, the Horror of Crimes of the Future", dedicates itself to talky context-building exposition. Attentive to the intricacies of cultural labor, and the appetites, needs and utility that would arise from a wholly different relationship to the body where people cut each other in public "desktop surgeries", Cronenberg envisions a shift in the human paradigm with new bureaucracies, artistic, and political mores. Much of the film is dedicated to the workings of this world, making for one of his densest, dialog-heavy and sometimes pedantic, overtly literal outings. But "Crimes of the Future" eschews these trappings by offering instead a kind of intellectual road map of these existential questions, and two guides to its future terrain in performance artists, Saul Tenser and his co-creator and lover, Caprice. Together, the duo have spun the process of these body-altering surgeries into a performative exhibition. Perhaps making sense of his transforming body, and expunging its unwanted futuristic developments, the mystical and sensitive Saul, and the sophisticated and savvy Caprice, are making sense of this new world in which they tenuously exist. Together they are spinning narrative and meaning amidst a sweeping upheaval of form and a time of volatile unpredictability. The film posits that this might be the highest calling of art in such times, and an opportunity to inquire isn't missed in the "Film Comment Interview: David Cronenberg on Crimes of the Future".