Here is my portion of things I listened to or watched obsessively this past month. Out of fascination or curiosity, I spent days on the following:
Fennec – bnb 
Bossa nova as religion, exotically melancholic and somewhere between Earl Sweatshirt, J Dilla and Clams Casino. That’s how you’ll start to assimilate him. The Austin-based ex-lawyer-turned-DJ seems to be the (better) non-homophobic and non-misogynistic version of Nick Bertke aka Pogo. Brand new and improved and amazing as ever. I played this hundreds of times already… “bahamamama” is another perfect highlight on his new album “a couple of good days”. Like you never want to leave Greek beaches. Like begging for (political) asylum in Big Sur and ending in a place like the one that absorbs Sarah Paulson’s iconic nurse in Ratched.
3 MUSICAL ALBUMS__________________
Beyoncé – Renaissance 
Somehow I remained interested to play it and analyze the textures. Collabs and samples from Drake, Pharrell Williams, Jay-Z and Nile Rodgers, including The-Dream as a producer. The usual. Feels boring and recorded just for the sake of still being in the game. She pissed off Kelis with that use of 2003’s Milkshake. “My mind is blown too because the level of disrespect and utter ignorance of all 3 parties involved is astounding. I heard about this the same way everyone else did,” she remarked. Kelis’ name is not featured in the songwriting and production credits for “Energy,” but Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo are. She is not credited as a songwriter or producer on the original song, either. “Nothing is ever as it seems, some of the people in this business have no soul or integrity and they have everyone fooled,” she went on to say. Heavy use of samples…
To name a few: “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred in “ALIEN SUPERSTAR”, “Ooo La La La” by Teena Marie in “CUFF IT” and “ENERGY”, “Explode” by Big Freedia in “BREAK MY SOUL”, “Center of Thy Will” by The Clark Sisters in “CHURCH GIRL”, “Cocaine (America Has a Problem)” by Kilo in “AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM”, “Cunty” by Kevin Aviance in “PURE/HONEY” and “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer in “SUMMER RENAISSANCE”… I almost forgot she ever existed. But I watched some Idris Elba thriller with her playing his wife from 2009 and now… This 16-track pack of bored confusion that feels like a “Daft Punk before disbandment” move, circa Random Access Memories. I try to understand where the so-called revival is.
The Verve – A Storm In Heaven 
The first adventure, the full official debut, Shoegaze like chocolate cream spread on bread from the enchanted and charming hearts of some “born to fly” Englishmen. The previous EP, the singles, the b-sides… Everything Verve means is as if you take off your strings from this world and go to another universe. So much venom, so much desire to break boundaries, so much desire to transform, to change the World…I have never heard it anywhere… “Already There”, “Slide Away”, “Blue”, “See You In The Next One (Have A Good Time ) “, “Beautiful Mind”… I can’t stop, I’m name dropping the whole album because, holy s**t, it really is the best ever made. It changed my life. You have to (re)listen to this!
A dreamy, analgesic Ashcroft, himself a complex mirage, a McCabe absolutely sick with sleep and fantasy, with those guitar strings running through my veins, Neo-Psychedelia, sweat, passion, silence, the intimacy they were going to lose on “A Northern Soul” (exchange for coldness, rainy days and emptiness). Ten tracks, ten worlds, ten escapes. Believe me, I want to listen to it on my last day…To remind myself that indescribably beautiful things are made in this world. Unrepeatable 46:49 fuzzy syrup of living with Love and drug addictions or The Verve’s first masterpiece. A kiss on the chest. A child. A gem. A gift. A light. A storm in the sky.
The Tough Alliance – Escaping Your Ambitions 
The middle album, that’s what I like to call it, and that’s what it is. The second in the career of these two Scandinavian councilors of returning to self. It’s a whole lagoon. Compared to the rest of TTA, “clubby” and full of cocky moods, this disc is very different. They wanted to express a disconnection from society and they gave us this. We have an Ocean and an Intro that whispers to you to close your eyes and dive into the way you once were. The dolphinarium wizards, Henning Fürst and Eric Berglund, lived (at least back then) in the heart of the musical North, Gothenburg. Sweden speaks through them. “Escaping Your Ambitions” is all about letting go of preconceptions. Let go! Let go! In the most sincere sense! Believe in yourself and find the magic. Even if the surrounding dust doesn’t allow you to think so, I beg you to buy this album and smile. There are still so many things you haven’t found out. And you want. And you can. And you’re looking. Electro Pop or mirrors. Look at yourself and accept yourself. The fight! Dare to raise your flag! It makes me cry about all those missed opportunities…
Eric weirdly stopped in his solo steps years later under his “ceo” moniker and Henning, after remixing amongst others Romanian Madonna – Loredana Groza – back in 2010, “kinda” musically retired to work in factories and take care of his children. They fought too much and they broke up. I guess we all end up with quitting those stupid old ambitions and embracing the brand smart new ones, heh…
TWO TV SHOWS____________________
I was insane about Starz’ “Magic City” (still obsessing about Steven Strait now that The Expanse is also over after Amazon saved it from SyFy’s lazy hands) and “Power” made me smell the drug-mob world from inside more naturally than Breaking Bad did (even though the three spin-offs left me uninterested). They are in my top five of greatest networks of juicy television and choosing to offer P-Valley to the world truly made me fall in love with their taste and sense of support for minorities. Set in the fictional town of Chucalissa, Mississippi, P-Valley is a (sometimes very) adult drama concerning the staff and patrons of The Pynk, a strip club run by Uncle Clifford which forms an integral part of the community’s nightlife. With various subplots involving different dancers and their dynamics and relationships, as well as other important figures such as local politicians and wealthy citizens, the show paints a complex portrait of a Southern community while delving into many important social topics.
The series takes place in a part of the Mississippi Delta where beauty can be hard to find. The disfigured America that Trump loves to hide. The array of big characters who come through The Pynk doors is vast — the hopeful, the lost, the broken, the ballers, the beautiful, and the damned. In current (possibly final?) season two which ends this August, darkness descends upon Chucalissa and everyone must fight tooth and talon to survive. It weirdly reminds of a lot of True Blood issues. While some take flight to perilous new heights, others dig in their stilettos and stand their ground no matter the cost. Tons of delicious gay sex scenes and LGBTQIA+ unpolished feelings expressed so gracefully, full of nuance, violence and distress… The series manages to portray in some heartbreakingly unique ways what it takes to be who you want to be in a world that minimizes you with every new line, with every new gesture. A necessary truth.
FOR ALL MANKIND [APPLE TV]
It is very difficult to make a genuine TV series with and about Space in this decade. Beyond the budget- and time-consuming jokes, I’ve gone through other seriously crafted gems like The Expanse and Nightflyers (even including the childish Lost In Space!). But the fragrance and ideas/messages of For All Mankind seem to find their trajectories with finality, wisdom and clarity. A fantasy that seems to make sense in reality. It’s not a coincidence that Apple invested extra confidence and this month they renewed the show for a fourth season that already begins its production in August. The series dramatizes an alternate history depicting “what would have happened if the global space race had never ended” after the Soviet Union succeeds in the first crewed Moon landing ahead of the United States. In an alternate timeline in 1969, Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov becomes the first human to land on the Moon.
This outcome devastates morale at NASA, but also catalyzes an American effort to catch up. With the Soviet Union emphasizing diversity by including a woman in subsequent landings, the United States is forced to match peace, training women and minorities (the LGBTQIA+ conflicts hits all my soft spots) who were largely excluded from the initial decades of U.S. space exploration. Each subsequent season takes place ten years later, with season 2 taking place in the 1980s, and season 3 taking place in the 1990s. Among the many other fantastically well-acted presences in the cast – we get Joel Kinnaman! Visually even more cohesive than The Expanse and with solid storylines, For All Mankind persists in an unprecedented juiciness and crosses so many issues that you end up thinking about The Future and with the nerve that you want to change something for the better in the society you are part of. Considering the current unrest and the seemingly endless war between America, Europe and Russia, the stories exposed in the series shake all the more strongly the ligaments of Humanity tried by the hard-to-control catastrophe of self-destruction.
ONE VISUAL ARTIST___________________
Michael Lipsey is an epigrammatist (1,500 epigrams) and artist living in California. He is the author of two collections of original epigrams: “I Thought So – A Book of Epigrams” and “I Thought So, Volume 2”. He is completing a third book, and another on the history and culture of the plumbing industry tentatively titled “Kitchen Sink Confidential.” He divides his time between writing and artwork. Much of the art is illustrations of the epigrams he has written. One illustration a day is posted on his tumblr blog and also frequently tweeted. He is a follower of classic Stoic philosophy. The epigrams range across Life, Science, Religion, Culture, manners and many other subjects. They are frequently quoted by teachers and speakers. His epigrams have now been quoted on an estimated 15,000 websites and blogs. I am fascinated by his artworks and I’m sharing religiously almost everything he creates. Please enjoy!
ONE LIVE PERFORMANCE______________
Interpol | Live at Festival Pinkpop 2022
In my humble opinion, coincidence or not, Interpol silently lost it after the departure of Carlos Dengler around the time their self-titled fourth album got released as they returned to Matador after the Capitol Records experiment. Everything they tried since then simply never made it to the top for me. They continued to excel in guitar games with El Pintor and Marauder (even if more frigid), but they feel completely gone on The Other Side of Make-Believe, their latest effort release on this July 15th. Other than “Renegade Hearts” nothing seems to be alive on this new album. I would not completely believe Paul Banks singing in “Toni”: “Still in shape, my methods refined”… Not really sure something’s refined in this comeback. Obsolete lyrics and somehow an irreparable damage from these pandemic years… Something happened to all of us, and it seems like it happened to Interpol too.
Watched them at Pinkpop 2022 this June and felt all the old sweet shivers of ’00s Indie-Noir canon, with the tumult in their supreme debut “Turn On The Bright Lights” and the warmth, weight and hooks of “Antics” bathing in NYC gloom. They only sang “Fables” and “Toni” from the new cd and it was quite enough in my book. I just remembered how excited I was in 2017 when they played in Romania at the festival that took the name from their song “Summer Well”. There’s so much poetry in every note of their first two albums… It just installed like a virus in the blood of an entire generation. It’s more than Music. Hymns for imprisonment in ourselves, fighting to get out (again). “Untitled” and “Narc” proves the witty consistency of Daniel Kessler and of those parts of eternally-missed Dengler now just well executed by very talented replacements. I’m still amazed by the affection in Paul’s voice and the total emotion in their pieces that changed the world in that 2002, a time of dark and red as ambiguous as it is today.
Featured image is Brothers by Fantasiarium
About the artist (source: patreon)
One day I got upset. Events in life were not very good, and in the world too. The plague epidemic, world wars, the threat of famine as horsemen of the Apocalypse have already hung over the soul. I have never been prone to depression, I have always been protected by the ability to fantasize, but it also got me.
And I did something completely opposite. I drew a creature that looked like a mouse and a cat, and my dog Oscar, and a church bishop. I liked it so much, and instantly dispersed sad thoughts. I drew a few more animals and decided to share them with the world. I really hope they make someone else happy.
Although I have worked as a programmer for most of my life, now I want to fulfill my childhood dream and become an author, writer, artist and visionary.
Other works by Fantasiarium: