Saturday, 9 November 2013

Small Doses V

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Ivan Antunovic from Zagreb is an extremely interesting individual who has his finger in a few notable pies. Not only does he have his 0.5 Half Releases label which “specialises in bringing out pop/noise records of sorts” by the likes of Alone In Heaven, Videododir, Hemendex, Mekanismo Va Morir, Popsimonova & Zarkoff, Split Personalities and Ilegalne emocije, but he also produces his exquisite fanzine “Small Doses” periodically, a copy of the latest issue (No.V) having recently landed on my doormat. “V” stands here, though, not just for this fifth outing but also “variety” which is certainly the name of the game with “Small Doses” and always the true marker, in my view, of a quality publication, see my review a while back of Kevin McCaighy’s “Salt” zine, and it also reminds me to some extent of Dave Haslam’s supreme “Debris” magazine which I used to devour and cherish as a teenager living in 1980s Manchester, reading about Coil, Raymond Carver, Mass Observation, Margaret Attwood, Laibach and The Pastels in the same pages, all blended together naturally to form a unified aesthetic.

Design is a central concern of Ivan’s and the two issues of “Small Doses” which I possess are triumphs in this respect, the first I received being a partial homage to the neo-Constructivist work of Neville Brody, as exemplified in the graphic work he did for Cabaret Voltaire, and this most recent one being stylishly printed onto a mixture of the kind of brown paper you might use to wrap parcels and the more conventional white you’d expect to find in a publication such as this, the articles within then being lovingly arranged across full A5 pages with others sliced sharply and precisely on the diagonal interspersed, such that reading through it, irrespective of the content, is a joy in itself.

So, to the content, which is first rate also. The opening articles, titled “La Philosophie dans le Woodoir” and “Objects Type for Themselves” concern themselves with two Croatian designers who Ivan selected as his favourite participants from the D-Day design event which took in Zagreb in June of this year, Patrizia Doná  and Sanja Rotter whom he describes as, “two amazing product designers, each contributing to quality life on this planet, with their unique blend of art and commerce. Sonja creates hand-made, unique jewellery and furniture, while Patrizia is an aesthete with an exquisite eye for second-hand items, transforming these into fashion objects of sheer beauty.” Across a thoughtful and highly intelligent interview, the first of these talks about her influences and motivations, as well as her philosophies and the challenges she faces producing her designs primarily from wood (hence the name of her brand – Woodoir), whilst the second speaks of the dadaesque bags, jewellery and other items, such as a perfume bottle, she sculpts out of found, mechanical objects such as typewriters and musical instruments. Her startling products remind me of a cross between Duchampian readymades and accoutrements which wouldn’t have looked altogether out of place incorporated into one of Oskar Schlemmer’s theatrical pieces, most obviously his “Treppenwitz”. One of the concerns her work raises, and which is raised in her interview, is the thin line which exists sometimes between what constitutes a work of art and what can be viewed as an everyday functional piece and I love her attitude when she says, “...some may view my unique bags with built-in typewriter keyboards as a piece of art, a sculpture, and are not surprised when I tell them the price of such an object. Others may see it as a wacky bag, a fancy toy they might like to stroll with through the promenade. The ideal holder is the one on which such an object will not “stick out”, but will present as a ‘pièce de résistance’ in their fashion style and lifestyle. Here are some examples.

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Next up in “Fashion Tricks and Politics” we find another sympathetic pairing in the form of two “German Bite” old friends, Soft Riot and Nõi Kabát, who also provide the three tracks which appear on the CD which comes accompanying “Small Does No.V”, an alternative mix of “Cinema Eyes” by the former and two versions of “Seeds of Time” by the latter, one reconfigured, in fact, by the one man band that is Soft Riot, Jack Duckworth. It’s worth buying for these alone, I might say. Across several pages of commentary about these electro artistes extraordinaire, mixed with snippets of interview, the focus is very much on these particular pieces rather than their respective oeuvres in general.

The musical thread then continues, and music is probably the major driving force behind the magazine, in a piece, again including an interview, about Canadian / Danish / living in Berlin electro-pop chanteuse Sally Dige of whom I’d never previously heard. Having been inspired by the piece, I’ve since had a little browse on You Tube and become quite a fan. I think I’ll throw in her video for “Immaculate Deception (Demo)” now which brings to mind several tremendous artists of yesteryear, Hard-Corps, Ronny and Gina X, to name but three.

Then, before we reach a few closing reviews nestled in the back pages, the final interview is with Heinrich Diesl, an Austrian music editor and writer who, it transpires, has recently had a tempting book titled “Im Puls der Nacht: Sub- und Popularkültur in Wien 1955-1976” published. Across ten pages, unsurprisingly, the focus is largely on the cultural history of the Austrian capital city, as well as topics such as interesting interviews he’s conducted during his career, his dj-ing aesthetic and, bliss, oh, bliss, electronic music again.

So, there you have it. I go back to my two copies of “Small Doses” over and over for another, well, dose of what they contain, most of which has been a new and wholly edifying revelation to me upon our initial meeting. Get in touch with Ivan and see about getting a copy for yourself and entering into his wonderful world, I proffer, and here’s a some links to assist you, a couple to his music pages and one to his Wordpress outing which operates as an extended alternative to that which has just been detailed above. Happy reading / listening to those of you wise enough to follow my recommendation.

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