The historic Nelson Mandela anthem, Kirsten Dunst in anime costume, a lot of NTS radio and more in our look at music this week
by CH Editors in Listen Up on 08 December 2013
It's Nice That + NTS Radio's Black Impulse Playlist
Our creativity-championing friends over at It's Nice That have let the folks from Black Impulse on NTS Radio hijack their weekly mixtape—resulting in two hours of music, most of which you've probably never heard before. Heather Weil focuses on prog, heavy psych, 1970s and '80s punk and hardcore. She explains, "These are three really difficult genres to make accessible." Check out the selection of 30 songs, from King Crimson to Vangelis' band Aphrodite's Child to Pelican, and be prepared to spend the whole day head-banging.
Röyksopp feat. Robyn: The Girl And The Robot
This week's #PrivateJam comes from Saidah Blount at NPR Music Events, who chose the 2009 dark electro-pop jam "The Girl And The Robot." Swedish siren Robyn lent her powerful vocals to Norwegian duo Röyksopp's futuristic chord progressions and arpeggiated synths. "Until I heard this song, I didn’t get the all the Robyn hype at all," admits Blount. "But with the help of the glorious Röyksopp, I instantly understood why people bow at Robyn’s feet—she’s such a modern-day disco diva. This song is super slick, burly and unashamed to be a complete dance floor stormer. I will not deny that I would be ashamed if anyone ever saw how many times it’s been played on my iTunes."
Jon Rust b2b Jamie xx on No Boring Intros
Jamie xx proved his true crate-digger style this week on the anything-goes show No Boring Intros hosted by fellow Londoner and DJ Jon Rust. Their back-to-back sessions on NTS Radio start smooth and funky—think Ollie Nightingale and Fred Wesley and the JBs—and finish with a fair share of edgier, club-worthy beats, with some Paul McCartney thrown in. These two hours of spontaneous awesomeness will revitalize a slow day in the office, and are equally ready to entertain the house party to follow. Check out our recent interview with Jon Rust if you're itching to learn more about his style.
Kirsten Dunst: Turning Japanese
This past Wednesday, we hit Parisian club Silencio's pop-up at Art Basel Miami Beach, where Pharrell and Takashi Murakami curated a set of the Japanese visual artist's films from his most recent "Jellyfish Eyes" to 2009's "Akihabara Majokko Princess." The latter—which exhibited at London's Tate Modern museum—is the pop artist's attempt to blend highbrow and lowbrow art. Directed by Hollywood-famous McG, it features Kirsten Dunst singing a cover of The Vapor's "Turning Japanese," complete in anime costume, walking the streets of Akihabara. Whether you consider it to be museum-worthy or not, it's a hypnotic four minutes that's just as entertaining as it is bizarre.
The Special AKA: Nelson Mandela
As the world mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela this week, we remember his profound spirit through the UK band The Special AKA's 1984 catchy anthem, "Nelson Mandela"—released as "(Free) Nelson Mandela" stateside. Produced by Elvis Costello, the song fuses the band's characteristic ska beats and brass with African harmonies, propelled by Stan Campbell's persuasive voice. Differing from most political protest songs, it is upbeat, positive and danceable. Celebrating Mandela's future release in a prophetic manner, "Nelson Mandela" raised awareness of the quiet prisoner's plight and the anti-apartheid movement to a global audience.
ListenUp is a Cool Hunting series published every Sunday that takes a deeper look at the music we tweeted about that week. Often we'll include a musician or notable fan's surprising personal interests—#PrivateJam exposes their musical guilty pleasure.
The passing of a political hero, growing crops on the moon and the color of 2014 in this week's look at the web
by CH Editors in Link About It on 07 December 2013
1. Mandela, Captured by the Camera
This past Thursday, the world mourned the death of Nelson Mandela. Passing away at the age of 95, Mandela is best known for his leadership role in the movement to end apartheid in South Africa. To look back on his influential life, The Times highlights his role as an activist, political prisoner and presidential candidate, as well as the final years of his life through a set of heavy hearted but striking images.
2. Grand Canyon Cloud Porn
Due to the unexpected interaction of both cold and warm air masses at the Grand Canyon this week, a "once-in-a-decade" phenomenon called total cloud inversion occurred. From Yavapai Point on the South Rim to Desert View Point, the clouds created a sea-like body between rock faces and mountains, making for a wealth of heavily shared other-worldly images.
3. How To Sharpen a Pencil
Taking a perfectly dry approach to the mockumentary, this step-by-step video demonstrates how to craft the rare perfect #2 pencil point using traditional techniques. Staring a single central character and a hilariously large tool kit, the clever video is so well done it takes a moment to realize it's a direct jab at the overwhelming resurgence of artisanal craft culture.
4. Web Life After Death
With the typical web user apparently having 25 different online accounts, it's interesting (albeit a little morbid) to think what happens to those accounts when the owner passes away. In a recently born realm—in which many of us don't read the fine print—the public and lawmakers are just beginning to find out the rules, or lack there of. Fascinatingly, experts suggest people treat their online presences as a tangible asset and leave it to somebody they trust—complete with instructions, passwords and their mother's maiden name.
5. UPS Delivery Drones
As some may have expected, UPS is too in the process of developing delivery drones to compete with Amazon's future Prime Air service. Sources close to the company say the world's largest parcel service has been working on the idea of drones for some time. However, only time will tell how the legality and availability of both projects pan out.
6. Moon Plants
A figment of science fiction and imagination for countless years, it seems humans living on the moon is a genuine possibility. And, as a step towards that reality, NASA will be planting basil, turnips and other flowering plants on the moon's surface in 2015. The thought process behind the experiment is, "If we send plants and they thrive, then we probably can." The plants will travel aboard the Moon Express lander, live in a sealed chamber and will use natural sunlight for germination. Expect to be garnishing your meals with space basil in no time.
7. The Artful Accidents of Google Books
As millions of pages are rapidly scanned into Google Books and made searchable to the public, interesting anomalies occur—the physical book's history, such as tobacco stains or handwritten notes, end up being preserved online, along with glitches that occur during the scanning process, like the hand of the scanner operator covering a page. These "mistakes" have been collected in Tumblrs, used in new media art work, and also raise thought-provoking questions regarding the politics and class factors behind data entry.
8. FlightAware Misery Map
Just in time for peak holiday travels, FlightAware's real-time Misery Map collects weather and flight data from around the US to show the number of delays and cancellations at major airports. Hover over each airport to see which specific flights are affected—and if yours is, know that you are in solidarity with the 300+ other delays around the country.
9. Pet Hospice
As the lives of our pets become increasingly more human—with pet-specific spas, cupcakes and ice cream—so does a pet's passing, thanks to the growing pet hospice industry. Much like humans, pets are taken off the heavy meds and transitioned to pain killers and anti-anxiety treatments to ease their final days. The one point of difference is the option of euthanasia; when a vet comes to you and eases the passing of your pet in the comfort of your home.
10. Chicken Training Camp
If you're yearning to take your pet training skills to the next level, then perhaps it's time to check out Ryan's Chicken Training Camps in Sequim, Washington. It's true: If you can train a chicken, you can train anything. The simple minded animals need instant gratification, which teaches visiting pet trainers to be super-exact and timely. The founders of these camps, the Baileys, have trained chickens to complete obstacle courses, remember patterns, choose between colors and shapes and even play the xylophone.
11. Graff Castle
The lengthy title says it all: "This is what happens when you give graffiti artists an abandoned warehouse and an unlimited amount of paint." Using the always entertaining time-lapse technique, this video zooms about a cavernous warehouse as the painters use everything from floor to ceiling as their canvas, showing each piece from start to finish in intricate detail.
12. 2014 Pantone Color of the Year
Trend consultant, adjust professor at Parsons The New School for Design and color forecaster Jasmine Takanikos was quick to share the Pantone color of the year announcement for 2014: Radiant Orchid. The bold shade reaches across the color wheel from the 2013 Pantone 17-5641 Emerald, flashing fuchsia, purple and pink undertones to create Pantone 18-3224. With the news out, expect an influx of purple in SS14 wardrobes.
Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily on Twitter and published weekly every Saturday morning.
The most driver-focused car Rolls-Royce has ever built
by Evan Orensten in Design on 06 December 2013
Our first look at the Wraith came last winter, and left us wanting to get behind the wheel. We recently had the chance to spend a day with it in and around Vienna, where we glided down scenic boulevards, sped on motorways and toured scenic country roads. The 2014 Wraith is a fastback coupe, and it’s the most powerful Rolls-Royce ever made, gracefully moving its 6,000 lbs to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds.
The coupe to its four door sibling (the Ghost), the Wraith sports a handsome, anvil-like nose that’s raked back ever so slightly, giving it a more athletic lean. The rear is what really shakes things up, though. The cabin sweeps dramatically downward to the butt of the car in a way that was seen in the early 1950s Silver Dawn Coupe and on American muscle cars of the Sixties and Seventies, and it’s a design that works with the brick-shaped front end. That same styling may come as a disappointment to some, either because of its unusual look, or that it isn’t quite sporty enough. Perhaps it’s the severe contrast between what looks like the marriage of a hammer and an egg, but we think the Wraith is a beautiful, unique motorcar to behold.
The interior is, as expected, opulent. Its leather the best money can buy, and you can have it colored and conditioned in virtually any way imaginable. It costs a little extra to get wild with bespoke leathers and woods, but if you’re shopping for a Rolls the additional cost probably isn’t much of a concern, and the opportunity to have it reflect your personal style is part of the brand’s appeal.
In short, we were particularly drawn to two design elements in the Wraith. The first is the optional Starlight Headliner. It’s not the first time we’ve seen it, but it is the first time we’ve seen it cover such a large space. While some may consider it a little gimmicky or better fitted for a party bus with a pole, it really is one of the most brilliant things when seen at night—and quite chic at that. The interior glows with 1,340 fiber optic strands packed into the ceiling of the car—of course, the dazzling lights can be custom-tailored to whatever night sky or design you desire. Rolls-Royce will even meet with an astronomer to determine the starscape over your city on the night of your birth should you desire to commemorate your arrival into the world.
We’re also particularly fond of the wood veneer and the door panels (which Rolls calls Canadel Panelling, inspired by the cove of Le Canadel beach in southern France, a favorite of Sir Henry Royce), which can be sourced from just about any tree on the planet—assuming it’s grown in a renewable forest—making up the largest single piece of veneer in any vehicle on the market. What’s most impressive is that the veneer is curved to fit into the door and the striations line up at a perfect 55-degree angle. Think about that for a second—when you bend a surface filled with parallel lines, they bunch together. The crafty woodworkers at the Goodwood, UK factory have found a way to bend the laws of nature to produce a perfectly-aligned interior finish that design nerds like us can get behind. And because the door panels (and every other wood surface in the interior) are perfectly bookmatched both have to be done flawlessly. One mistake and the pair has to be started from scratch. It’s something you’ll appreciate every time you open the door.
The 2014 Wraith is the most powerful Rolls-Royce in the brand’s 110-year history, producing 616 horsepower from its twin-turbocharged 6.6-liter V12. Driving the Wraith leaves you wanting little more than to spend more time with it. A very fast car, especially for its weight, but in typical Rolls fashion, it doesn’t ever feel wild. There’s beasty power (and braking) on tap, but accelerating feels more like you’ve been scooped up by a wave and propelled forward rather than being thrown back into your seat. The optional "Wraith" package includes the 1,300 watt Bespoke Audio option, which ranks up there with the Mercedes-Benz Burmeister and Range-Rover Meridien systems, both of which we highly regard.
Luxury is having what you want when you want it, and the Wraith fulfills that promise. Endlessly smooth and much more compelling behind the wheel than the sedans in the lineup—even its steering wheel is thicker than the signature pencil-thin one found in the Ghost, suggesting that this car is a little more about driving than being driven. For a nearly 6,000 lb car, handling is surprisingly flat (that’s a good thing). Though we wouldn’t call the Wraith a sports car—“Sport” is a relative term for Rolls-Royce—it absolutely qualifies as one of the world’s most exquisite GranTurismos.
The 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith is a statement of unconventional, beautiful design and impeccable interior finishes. There’s no doubt that it’s powerful, as are all Rolls-Royces, but there are equal amounts of joy found in admiring the car as there are in driving it—maybe a first for the brand, as the Ghost and Phantom lineup tend to be better enjoyed from the rear seats. Most will consider it the first driver’s Rolls-Royce in a very long time, one that innovates in its luxurious appointments and customization and delivers a driving experience that sets it apart from others in its niche.
Visit Rolls-Royce for more information on the Wraith. While nicely kitted out with its $285,000 base price, features and customization can easily add another $50,000.
Night images courtesy of Rolls-Royce, all others by Evan Orensten