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Click for new review of Shake

GUEST REVIEW BY GUNNART QUICKE (www.rightbrainwords.com) Here’s something unusual to watch out for; a sturdy, red-orange square with a sparkly gem cluster dangling from its corner. Why? Because inside this insanely grab-able packaging is “Shake!” –the debut single by Black Lake; four, short, knockout songs of sweet, urgent intensity. From the very first moment with “Shake Your Body,” you have entered a crystallized nighttime of guitar-jangle poetry that feels event-like as it passes through your emotional core. The record is at times magisterial and righteous with it’s large volumes of implied space and water, only to become childish, even simpleminded by turns as the mysterious art-duo stoop to evoke the small, untidy detritus always edging in around us.  And damn if it doesn’t culminate all too quickly in a bright-heavy warning, the entreaty “Beware,” in which we might be stabbed in the throat or poisoned by moss! Fresh from some urban forest of our future/past, Black Lake have arrived fully formed, ready to serve up their heretical, poetical libations with new styled genius. 

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Shake: 4-song 45-rpm record Black Lake, by David Brody

BOMB 117/Fall 2011EDITOR'S CHOICE

 

 

A friend once remarked that she couldn’t think of Bruce Springsteen without laughing, perfectly describing my problem with rock and roll. Mind you, I’ve had my moments of abandon, but I’d sum it up this way: I can occasionally plug into the demonic amperage of a Jimmy Page but have always detested the glam posturing of a Robert Plant, indeed, the whole medium of exchange of the rock concert—the waiting, the worship. As for typical alternative rock, which affects to be more grassroots, most of the moody casualness can be plain false—sometimes self-consciously so, which is twice as torturous. Alt/indie lyrics, when parsable, seem to be simultaneously too obvious and too arbitrary; the textures and cadences of the accompanying guitar riffs suffer from a lethargy of musical self-satisfaction.

Black Lake enacts a new paradigm that I can get into. The duo triangulates the rock gig with the presentational detachment of a poetry reading and the DIY-trickiness of an art installation, thereby circumventing the attitudinal idiocies that can inbreed within all three genres of contemporary hipsterism. Slink Moss sing-spiels with an assured, rubbery, cowboy-street-preacher delivery, while Abba-cool Susan Jennings provides backup and engineers layered projections that claim the space around the performance by means of shadows and lush refractions amplifying through dangling, twirling remnant plastics. The posture—equilaterally askew from the performance space, the club, and the pop-up gallery—is all about backing the audience off just far enough to create incantatory elbow room for Black Lake’s precisely strummed Mack-Truck ragas.

Working two rhythm guitars across pairs of glorious, euphonious chords, as in the flamenco-inflected “Beware,” Moss and Jennings configure a compelling pulse of sound from an accessible minimalism. This version of garage primality shares DNA with the band’s efficient light-show projections; and equally with its lyrical opportunism, in which strings of free association (“Beware of the coming frost / Beware of the poison moss”) assert a satisfying rhetorical arrogance by being set onto synesthetic ledges in the wall of rhythm. With such unmonumental glitter, cannily austere Black Lake proves that one needn’t hock the soul to rock out.

—David Brody is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn.

Link to review of Black Lake's 7" vinyl <Shake in BOMB by David Brody

interview of Black Lake by Lydia Dona
Click for interview with Lydia Dona

An interview by Lydia Dona on BOMBsite

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Susan Jennings: Art & Alchemy

by Stephen Lamia

 

 

 

An object projected. A vessel filled. A shadow created. An item moved. A sound reverberated. A space transformed. This is the art of Susan Jennings. Like an alchemist toiling in a laboratory, Susan Jennings experiments with quotidian materials in her work, then transforms and imparts new life to them.

 

Several years ago, while attending the Annual Open Studio of The Elizabeth Art Foundation, I stopped by her space and was struck by what I saw – a darkened intimate studio filled with small objects – metallic mobiles, glass water-filled containers, sparkling glittery things – all suspended in space and projected onto a blank scrim, something akin to a magical theatre of inanimate forms moving in balletic rhythm. Yet, somehow, these inanimate objects appeared to be animated by some unseen substance– an invisible wind, an alchemical force.

 

Now, add to this enchanting mix the dimension of sound, courtesy of Black Lake, which consists of the artist herself accompanied by her collaborator and fellow artist and musician, Slink Moss, and the experience is taken into an entire other realm, one of hypnotic, pneumatic rhythm. With this combination of sound and visuals, the alchemy metamorphoses into a totally synaesthetic experience.
 
Black Lake combines Jennings' video art, original music and lyrics, sculpture, collage, spoken word, sounds, movement and shadows for its installations and performances which occur mostly in art venues. Some recent examples of venues include The RISD Museum of Art, 179 Canal, David Nolan Gallery, Freight + Volume and The Elizabeth
Foundation for the Arts.

Jennings is the recipient of a Louis Comfort Tiffany Fellowship and an Art Production Fund 'Artists at Giverny' Fellowship and Residency. She has also been a Fellow at the MacDowell Art Colony in Peterborough, NH and is currently a studio resident at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York City. She received a BA from Yale University and an MFA from Hunter College.


The Anthony Giordano Gallery

The Anthony Giordano Gallery presents Gray Rainbow, an exhibition by Susan Jennings with sound by Slink Moss

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