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Brian Eno (#110 of 6)

The Call of the Lizard Brain Charles Burns’s X’ed Out and The Hive

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The Call of the Lizard Brain: Charles Burns’s X’ed Out and The Hive
The Call of the Lizard Brain: Charles Burns’s X’ed Out and The Hive

By explicitly referencing the colorful boys’ adventures of Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin, Charles Burns turns his latest works, X’ed Out and The Hive, into something of an intertextual puzzle box. But the surreal, existential horror of Burns’s work has never remotely resembled Hergé’s. In his warped evocation of Hergé’s impressively realized world (which in itself was a rather off-kilter, and sometimes bizarre, vision of our own), Burns highlights its peculiarities: boy hero Tintin’s careful asexuality, the conspicuous absence of female characters or any kind of romance or sex, the surreal exoticization of the real and the familiar. He does this not as metatextual critique, but as a catalyst for his own tale of the meeting of two wounded souls, Doug and Sarah, both art students making their way through a pretension-laden underworld of entitled middle-class youth during the 1970s.

Doug’s appropriation of a Tintin-like comic-book character, “Nitnit,” as a secondary artistic persona becomes a telling indicator of the way he, and in turn all of humanity, interacts with art—as medicine and mask for everything ugly and animal about us. Doug puts on a Nitnit mask and recites poetry “cut-ups” at an art show, cruelly hoping that Sarah, the girl he has a crush on, will “push her way through the crowd to get [him]” even as his current girlfriend looks on. When his recitation is interrupted by a harsh critic, he fantasizes about looking on as his heckler shamefully admits she’s never heard of William Burroughs. Doug’s hypocrisy is key to understanding his terrifying, vivid fantasies and dreams. Burns weaves Doug’s dream life into the two books along with his memories, creating one continuous hallucinatory, cascading narrative that skips across different times and realities.

House Playlist: Patrick Wolf, Brian Eno, and Beastie Boys

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<em>House</em> Playlist: Patrick Wolf, Brian Eno, and Beastie Boys
<em>House</em> Playlist: Patrick Wolf, Brian Eno, and Beastie Boys

Patrick Wolf, “Together.” I can’t say I feel quite as enthusiastically as Slant’s Matthew Cole about Patrick Wolf’s new album, Lupercalia, out this week in the U.K. and coming to U.S. shores later this year. Wolf already explored the giddy heights of falling in love in 2007 on the superior The Magic Position. But there’s no shortage of gems on the new album, most notably the ecstatic penultimate track “Together,” the driving synth-pop strut, disco strings, and operatic vocals of which recall Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe’s finest, and finds Wolf branching out in a brand new sonic, if not thematic, direction. Sal Cinquemani

House Playlist The Acorn, Brian Eno, the Weeknd, & Whirl

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House Playlist: The Acorn, Brian Eno, the Weeknd, & Whirl
House Playlist: The Acorn, Brian Eno, the Weeknd, & Whirl

The Acorn, “White Heat (Silken Laumann Remix).” One of our favorite indie labels, Paper Bag Records, has released a track-for-track cover of Madonna’s True Blue album, which turns 25 this summer (yup, you’re officially old). Highlights include Young Galaxy’s minimalist take on “Open Your Heart,” the Rural Alberta Advantage’s folked-out version of “Live to Tell,” and the Acorn’s clattering synth-rock rendition of “White Heat,” a standout cut from the original album that, save the James Cagney sample, is completely reinvented and nearly unrecognizable from the Material Girl’s version. Download the whole album for free here. Sal Cinquemani