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Issue 23, 2016


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  • Youthline under the pump

  • Such a waste

  • Vic Uni really good at researching and citing

  • The masters’ debate in 400 words.

  • A survey that matters

  • Productivity report gets radical

  • VUW make their case on Karori sale decisions

  • Push for fossil fuel divestment continues

  • Chuck some more money on your loan

  • Stunt goes badly

  • University jocks recognized at Blues Awards

  • A uni-relevant thing happened in parliament

  • Fundraising Frenzy

  • Fun News

  • “It doesn’t have to be boring”: Chlöe Swarbrick vs. status quo

  • Features

  • white-man

    On White Men Being Behind Desks

    A little while ago I was in New York, trying really hard to not be a tourist. I didn’t go up the Empire State Building, I didn’t go on that free commuter ferry that goes kind of near the Statue of Liberty, I didn’t go to One World Trade Centre or even the Brooklyn Bridge. […]


  • left-right

    I Only Date People Who Vote…

    Voting is the most essential component to a democracy, yet there is a common perception that students do not vote and do not care about politics. As a political science student, understanding this stuff is kind of my jam. We are around 15 months out from another election and I already know who I am […]


  • us-election

    US Election 101: Your Own Personal Guide to the Potential End of the World

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or in Greymouth) for the past 18 months, you’ll be aware that in just over five weeks arguably the most polarising election in US history will take place. The Republican candidate, Donald J. Trump (aka King of the Deplorables—source: HRC), and the Democratic candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton (aka […]


  • white-man

    On White Men Being Behind Desks

    A little while ago I was in New York, trying really hard to not be a tourist. I didn’t go up the Empire State Building, I didn’t go on that free commuter ferry that goes kind of near the Statue of Liberty, I didn’t go to One World Trade Centre or even the Brooklyn Bridge. […]


  • left-right

    I Only Date People Who Vote…

    Voting is the most essential component to a democracy, yet there is a common perception that students do not vote and do not care about politics. As a political science student, understanding this stuff is kind of my jam. We are around 15 months out from another election and I already know who I am […]


  • us-election

    US Election 101: Your Own Personal Guide to the Potential End of the World

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or in Greymouth) for the past 18 months, you’ll be aware that in just over five weeks arguably the most polarising election in US history will take place. The Republican candidate, Donald J. Trump (aka King of the Deplorables—source: HRC), and the Democratic candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton (aka […]


  • Arts and Science

  • Slowly Failing

    Poems generated by Experimental Deskjet, from the upcoming exhibition Slowly Failing. Slowly Failing is an exploration, speculation, and reaction to the ‘Post-Auto’ movement using today’s available technology to communicate tomorrow’s message. The exhibited experiments explore the possibilities and outcomes of technology when the user is removed from the process and the technology is left to produce on its own. A final year Massey BDes project by Harry Boyd and Isaac Laughton.

    October 7–14. 294 Lambton Quay.



    lan I

    vote for him about the other

    pr you xox love and respect you more who would you like very nice

    quote of semibold to first time ever

    C02M241NFD57 – 2016



    can’t wait for rathe and day of the day

    all my heart ugly to me question everything that even the first one has to go back the tears early bird earn coins dab the first place

    oh well

    jealous and you vice-like it and

    C02M241NFD57 – 2016


    u have been

    early this week from a different kind back-and-forward for i and now it just

    there should I say earlier today was seriously so you’re my channel-flipping out the

    self-driving around me because I

    C02M241NFD57 – 2016



    yes you letterform to waitlist the most important you’re so beautiful

    channel-flipping a

    jokes that you can vice-like that I can hear the keep your mouth

    we are early for that

    C02M241NFD57 – 2016


  • Fuck you but also thank you

    “I’m not out to point out bad things that happen in the world. I’m not out to say, ‘That’s a problem, we need to fix that.’”

    —Simon Denny

    “If you are going to have this platform, use it to say something, use your fucking white educated male arse to say something.”

    —Faith Wilson


    Everywhere I go is Simon Denny. My social media feeds have been dominated by the the same few photographs over and over: skinny white boy with a serious gaze and short back and sides. A little bit fuckboy; a little bit Macpac. The photos are either Simon Denny taken through a window (he makes art about surveillance, get it?) or Simon Denny in front of artwork with his phone out (he makes art about technology, get it?). Simon Denny is everywhere. Simon Denny is having an ‘art moment’. Simon Denny is the future of New Zealand art. The installation of his 2015 Venice Biennale work Secret Power (or four $750,000 components of it) at Te Papa a few weeks ago has resulted in a flurry of talks, interviews, and one average “making of” video doing the social media rounds. It’s fair to say I am over exposed to Simon Denny.

    Of course I went to see it / him (he describes himself as a brand *eugh*) at Te Papa last week. I was, to be honest, sceptical as you often are when you are over-exposed to something. I was ready to hate Simon Denny. But I didn’t. I quite liked it actually. I quite liked him. The four works were originally installed among others in the grand (apparently) Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, 2015’s New Zealand Pavilion for the Venice Biennale. The large humming glass computer server cabinets are filled with a hodge-podge of visual material related to the Edward Snowden-leaked NSA files, e.g. badly designed power points and 3D printed Nokias. Now installed in Ngā Toi | Arts Te Papa, the works sit on a large photographic floor and wall wrap of the original site. The installation is a super visual information overload, reframing what feels like intangible information into a very Te-Papa-esque exhibition display, complete with garish visualisations and illustrations, lighting, models, and laser etched texts.

    It’s not just our national museum that has been capitalising on the now Berlin based Simon Denny being in town. Several months back Artspace in Auckland announced a call for proposals for the exhibition New Perspectives with Simon Denny that aimed to bring together artists with “young practice” and “new perspectives” on the basis of a selection by… our hero Simon Denny. Even though I kind of hated it I also couldn’t help fantasising over the idea of being chosen, meeting Simon Denny, being part of this elite selection, perhaps sharing in someway in this “art world moment.”

    Faith Wilson, a Wellington based artist and general person of good thoughts and actions, also saw the call, mused over this focus on golden boy Simon Denny, and unlike me responded. She sent in a confessional style video “which was not an artwork” dressed in pink bathrobe, condemning both the project: “How is Simon Denny relevant to new perspectives in Aotearoa art? And why are we getting NZ’s biggest WMA bro artist to curate this? Fuck Simon Denny.” And Denny’s noncommittal politics: “If you are going to have this platform use it to say something, use your fucking white educated male arse to say something.”

    A few weeks later Faith is skyping Simon Denny. She had been invited to contribute to the show. Duh. This non-artwork, created in defiance, was accepted into the fold. Colonised by those she was rallying against. A way to claim and control her reaction or use it to prove a point of inclusivity? Or a genuine interest her New Perspective?


    “Lol found out Simon Denny is a Capricorn 😈  they’re like apparently the worst combo for me.”


    Since then my instagram feed has been filled with a narrative trail of confessional videos, hand scrawled notes, stalker-esque images, and compatibility tests. I now know Simon Denny is a capricorn and Faith’s Tarot was on point this month, anticipating their meeting. Her anger manifested as something more complex, a romance of sorts—alongside the frustration was this same want to please, to be accepted, to be a ‘chosen one’ as I had felt reading the email. Her anger manifests as desire—physical and emotional. Struggling to claim a space for her body as a brown woman in an ultimately white male word, whilst being accepted, validated, and pleasing to those in power.


    “I thought you wanted to help me but you just wanted my body to include in your diverse show.”


    She plays (or is) the girl in love with a man she hates, but can’t stop thinking about. A bad guy she can’t quit. I want you to want me so I can not want you back. I want to feel loved and validated by your gaze, hate it, and then fondly remember our awful interactions. Throughout the narrative structure of the Instagram Simon Denny becomes more than the man she is simultaneously attempting to seduce and condemn, but also a representative for a community that she knows she will never truly fit, never able to fully express herself within.


    “I don’t want to be the poster girl for dissent.”


    A particularly poignant moment, the turning point in the story, is a series of hand scrawled notes written on the edges of pages of books and readings. They come hard and fast, revealing the desperation and conflicted nature of Faith’s relationship with Denny. Interspersed with videos of barefaced Faith desperately flipping between anger, disappointment, and confusion the story becomes so much more uncomfortable—it departs from celebrity fan art to a darker space. The artwork and the reality of the situation blur and it becomes hard to discern the the line between performed and felt. How much is the continuation of the narrative an idea and critique, a performed reality, and how much a real lived experience reflecting her ongoing relationship with Denny as curator and commissioner of the work she has to ultimately produce for the Artspace show?


    “My desire was to assimilate, yours was to colonise, what went wrong?”


    I haven’t seen the work in New Perspectives with Simon Denny and am not sure how much of the @fucksimondenny Instagram will be a part of it. The freedom and form of instagram provides a space where the resistance was was her own, unclaimed by Denny and unclaimed by the institution. How will the work continue inside the walls of the gallery, where there is more of a game to play, people to please, a format to fit?

    In the end Faith has made herself vulnerable, spoken her mind, taken a risk, questioned the system. She shared a subjective voice, even if at times it confused her and left her conflicted. She owned it and revealed something. She interrogated herself and the system around her. That’s brave and that’s political.


    Thank you to Faith for @fucksimondenny and sharing your thoughts with me. If you are in Auckland over the next few weeks (until October 29) make sure you get to Artspace, Level 1, 300 Karangahape Rd, and check out New Perspectives with Simon Denny, Faith Wilson, Louisa Afoa, Diva Blair, Hikalu Clarke, Owen Connors, Charlotte Drayton, Matilda Fraser, Motoko Kikkawa, Louise Lever, Theo Macdonald, Quishile Charan, Tiger Murdoch, Dominique Nicolau, Aroha Novak, George Rump, Mark Schroder, Anna Sisson, Huni Mancini, Hannah Valentine, Tim Wagg, and Yllwbro.

    **All quotes, unless stated otherwise, are from Faith Wilson aka @fucksimondenny.**


  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit



    On September 21,  Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered the first episode of its eighteenth season. Created by television powerhouse Dick Wolf, SVU is a procedural crime show focusing on the law enforcement officials and attorneys involved in the prosecution of crimes of sexual and domestic violence and child abuse. While originally just a show I sometimes watched at home with my mom during high school, I’ve come to enjoy SVU a lot in a way I never thought I would. For all of its soap opera glamour, ripped-from-the-headlines stories and cringe-worthy one liners, the show has a lot of heart and can be both thrilling and deeply moving, not to mention it boasts the best theme song of all time.

    A show starting its eighteenth season is pretty daunting if you want to start watching, but the majority of SVU episodes are self contained and have conclusive endings and don’t need to be watched consecutively. The human brain loves puzzles and patterns and finishing them (that’s why you have Young Thug in your head all the time, because you’re trying to figure out what he’s saying) and SVU is the perfect 40 minute puzzle for you to dissect. It’s fun trying to solve the crimes while also factoring in at least one or two insane out-of-left-field plot twists. There are a bunch of amazing cameos: Robin Williams, Hilary Duff, Ludacris, Martin Short, John Stamos, 2Chainz, the list goes on. Then there’s the episodes that are based on and cash in on real life events: the Casey Anthony trial, the Duggar family, JonBenet Ramsey. Sometimes they throw a bunch together, like the episode where Paula Deen shoots Trayvon Martin. I never said it was smart. The main cast are equally endearing and scandalous, starring Mariska Hargitay (daughter of ill-fated 50s bombshell Jayne Mansfield), rapper Ice-T, Hannibal’s Raúl Esparza and Jurassic Park’s B.D. Wong. All up, it can make a great drinking game.

    Joking aside, it seems a little frightening to call the gritty and dark world of SVU idealistic but it still is—while not every case ends positively the squad still has a high success rate, and it’s cathartic to see greasy bug-eyed rapists thrown in jail. All the pedophiles look like Kevin Spacey and suck at choosing passwords for their exploitative websites and they all get life sentences. It’s nice to think everything is that easy and that good will always triumph over evil. Sadly the reality for most victims of sexual assault is a long and drawn out ordeal in a legal system that would rather victim blame survivors than help them and that’s if they even get to reporting the crime, something that requires a ton of emotional labour on behalf of the victim. Seeing Olivia Benson kick deadbeat ass and work so hard to help victims of sexual assault makes me feel good and when I watch SVU I can suspend my disbelief enough to think maybe this is real and there is justice for those who have had their power taken so cruelly from them. While Olivia Benson isn’t real, Mariska Hargitay does a lot of real-life charity work, including founding the Joyful Heart Foundation in 2004 to provide support for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. As someone with PTSD the content of the show can be triggering but I seek a strange comfort in it, and with eighteen seasons you’re in luck if you’ve run out of shows to watch. DUN DUN.


  • Review: THEA304’s A Series of Sticky Events

    “THEA304—Directing” is one of the courses on offer for a third year theatre major, and one of the options a theatre degree builds toward. So what exactly will you get into? It is a twelve-week intensive course where you, with the support of mentors, produce ten minute pieces of theatre: lights, costumes, the whole shebang. Students also adopt production roles to assist other directors, creating a collaborative environment which explores various avenues of theatre simultaneously.

    In the rehearsal period of about four to six weeks, eighteen budding directors created eighteen highly diverse pieces of theatre: you will never experience nor be a part of something like THEA304 without experiencing or being a part of THEA304.

    The pieces were partitioned into Seasons A and B and played on alternate nights for a four-night period dubbed A Series of Sticky Events. For many of these students, it was their first time directing. All made admirable efforts and should be proud of their achievements and growth.

    Both seasons had their strengths, but I found Season B more consistent overall. The tone for both evenings was largely sombre, with sprinklings of comedy (well-placed and well-needed) throughout, which made the comical pieces shine brighter. Each piece used the space creatively and Nino Raphael’s excerpt of Angels in America deserves special mention; it transformed the actor’s dressing room downstairs into a Valium-induced depiction of a drag queen’s den. This not only provided a journey for the audience that effectively accompanied his excerpt, but also helped to mitigate the sometimes lengthy transitions between the showings. Sarah Burton’s Carmen Dick: Feminist Private Eye also effectively used its transition time and helped the prior scene shift their set off-stage by distracting the audience with a highly entertaining pre-show skit. Season B, however, lacked this inter-show synergy.

    Some scenes used minimal set to great efficiency, standing out from their set-heavy counterparts. Jules Forde’s scene from Wairoa used a line of water as a symbol for the encroaching tide—it was both beautiful and chilling. Rory Hammond’s excerpt from Loveplay was delightfully mischievous; it required a single set piece that found (and needed) use just once amongst the fumbling of his actors through a missed sexual encounter.

    Choreography was strong across the board. Specific mention is warranted for Adeline Shaddick’s passage from Lifetime due to her entertaining tango interludes and energetic clowning. Matthew Staijen’s Honey and Abi Merson’s Lovesong also incorporated elegant dance choreography.

    Liam Kelly’s segment from Skin Tight and Adele Louise Tunnicliff’s extract from the musical [Title of Show] [yes this is the actual title of the show—meta] were major standouts from their respective seasons. Kelly’s highly physical piece was choreographed excellently with the right balance of the playful, the sinister, and the sexual. His actors, George Fenn and Ania Upstill, commanded total attention the second they stepped on stage. Tunnicliff’s piece created an eruption of laughter and joy within the audience. Her crafting helped her lead, Yasmin Golding, own the spotlight, and the rest of her actors (Helen Mackenzie, Jack Henderson, and Brodie Taurima) were reminiscent of the Muses from Disney’s Hercules—it was all the better for it too. All scenes contributed to an entertaining night and, while some could do with another week’s rehearsal, it is a pleasure to witness the rise of new directing (and acting) talent.



    It is a limited entry course offered in trimester two of 2017. If you want to gain experience and learn the basics of directing, or have always wanted to produce that one scene of that one particular play, consider THEA304 as a choice for your third year.


  • Snowpiercer


    Director: Bong Joon-ho


    In alignment with this week’s theme of Korean films and / or directors, Snowpiercer is an obvious addition to the list. Snowpiercer is brought to us by Korean director Bong Joon-ho, who crafts this cinematic masterpiece as a South Korean-Czech science fiction thriller. Based off of the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, this telling story was re-written for the screen by Bong Joon-ho and Kelly Masterson. Snowpiercer is Joon-ho’s English language debut and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the most expensive Korean production ever.

    The film stars the familiar Hollywood face of Chris Evans (Captain America) who plays the protagonist Curtis Everett. We are submerged into a post-apocalyptic world that suffers from a second Ice Age, due to humans’ efforts to engineer the climate in an attempt to control climate change. The last inhabitants of the earth have boarded the Snowpiercer: a train powered by perpetual motion that endlessly circles the earth in a last ditch attempt to avoid human extinction.

    Inevitably the societal hierarchal structures that existed in the ‘old world’ creep their way onto the train and its inhabitants become separated by class and wealth. Curtis, inhabiting the lower-class tail end of the train, along with a hoard of other unwashed and starved proletariats, is under constant watch from the Snowpiercer’s creator, the ominous Wilford.

    Conspiring to escape with his mentor Gilliam (played by John Hurt), and fed up with his low quality of life, Curtis leads his fellow bottom-class friends towards revolution and they plan to make their way to the first-class section of the train and escape their life of poverty and despair. Overpowering the guards, a small group of inhabitants, including a security expert and a clairvoyant girl, begin their journey to the front of the train only to be met with a new struggle at each cabin and a rather shocking confession from Wilford himself at the end of their journey.

    Drawing on themes of cannibalism, survival, and dictatorship, Snowpiecer navigates its way through some pretty heavy content, although it never falters in its efforts to impress and the film feels believable and subtle despite this. Plus each scene is beautifully detailed—especially the in-car aquarium and shots of the train shooting through snowy and abandoned landscapes.

    Although the film is an allegory, and an obvious one at that, it still sends a powerful message about unfair and unequal exercise of wealth, power, and privilege that prevail within society. It speaks to many modern areas of concern in today’s world, such as the ongoing debates over climate change and the unequal distribution of wealth between the East and the West: concerns that won Joon-ho and Masterson awards for Best Director and Best Screenwriters at the Asian Film Awards of 2014, and Joon-ho Best Director at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival of 2013.

    If you’re a fan of the Dystopian Action-Thriller, Snowpiercer might be an option for you.


  • Train to Busan


    Director: Yeon Sang-ho 


    Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan is easily the best horror / action film since Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. (I classify it as ‘action’ over horror, as zombies haven’t actually been ‘scary’ since 1968’s Night of the Living Dead.)

    Seok-Woo is a workaholic living in Seoul with his young daughter, Su-An. It’s Su-An’s birthday and in an attempt to become more present in her life he’s promised to take her to Busan via train to visit her mother, only an hour away.

    By the time they get on the train in the early morning, the world is collapsing around them. People have become rabid and an infected passenger make it onto the train. Similar to 28 Days Later, people become infected quickly. They are both hyper-violent and fast, turning the majority of the carriages into a bloodbath before a small group of passengers are able to barricade themselves in first class. The characters of this film are believable and multi-dimensional, and the sparse use of CGI is expertly executed.

    The claustrophobic feeling of this film is immense. As if being on a cramped train isn’t bad enough, walls of the undead collapsing over one another to take a bite out of you elevates this to new levels. This is a familiar zombie-film trope, the Zombies are an allegory for over-population and enchlophobia (a fear of crowds), which the film executes perfectly.

    Though today’s Zombie films are typically a gore-fest, this film doesn’t feature nearly as much violence as your typical Hollywood faux-body horror trash. Instead Sang-Ho focuses on shocking his audience through both the will and sheer number of the undead—piling over one-another, falling in heaps out of windows to get to the living, and even trailing behind a train—to the point where I was saying to myself: “Oh f**k that. Seriously, f**k that.”


  • The Wailing


    Director: Na Hong-jin 


    The Wailing is a suspenseful, atmospheric supernatural thriller that rivals The Exorcist. Korean director Na Hong-jin will have you not only question your faith, regardless of your belief, but also the meaning of good and evil.

    The film revolves around Hyo-Jin, an oafish police officer living in a small Korean village with his young daughter. A brutal murder kicks off the story, where a kind and loving man slaughters his wife and young children with a kitchen knife. The man is found clearly unwell, suffering from rashy skin and speaking in tongues, and the police pass it off as the man having eaten the wrong wild mushrooms—until similar murders start to plague the village.  

    Upon investigating the events, Hyo-Jin’s daughter becomes increasingly violent and demonic omens, such as dead crows and terribly afflicting night terrors, begin to manifest in her home.

    At the same time, rumours have started to spread about a mysterious Japanese resident living in the foothills above the village. What connection does he have to the victims?

    Though the start of this film is funny and lighthearted, using subtle comedy and family dynamics to advance your connection with the characters, Hong-Jin soon turns it on its head as tragedy, suspicion, and paranoia start to ravage the police officer’s family. 

    The film draws on religious elements from traditional Korean shamanism and Christian exorcism to shape a world in which the director has full control of what you feel and believe. Filled with subtle “blink and you’ll miss it” type clues that’ll keep you guessing throughout; Hong-Jin has created a film that is as gripping and mysterious as one can get. At three hours, The Wailing is an absolute epic that will not only have you glued to your seat, but will stay with you for weeks as you try to decipher its meaning.


  • Mimicry 1


    Editor: Holly Hunter


    Mimicry is a new, nifty little Wellington-based literary and arts journal, packed with poetry, fiction, nonfiction, visual art (and even music!), all packaged sweetly in confectionery colours. On the first page, under the heading “NEPOTISM”, editor Holly Hunter declares the contributors to be her “incredibly talented and creatively driven friends.” But if the initial reception has been anything to go by, there will soon be a much larger pool of submissions to select from (and a second issue is already in the works.)

    Personal highlights of the collection are Nina Powles’ brilliant essay on being half Malaysian-Chinese and discovering her heritage through food—from eating mooncakes and sesame pancakes in Shanghai to cooking fragrant meals in her small Kelburn kitchen. Celine Soyer’s piece on tracking down a man in a Fijian village from a friend’s old photograph poignantly observes the nature of friendship and memory, and is accompanied by her own drawings. Poetry ‘It Girl’ Hera Lindsay Bird shares her Post-It notes with us. Freya Daly-Sadgrove’s poems, two of which are included in the journal, are eclectic and lively, riffing on chaotic relationships.

    It’s exciting to see the launch of a new journal in New Zealand, especially one that aims to be inclusive of all mediums and accessible to everyone. Mimicry 1 is available in two formats: a hardcopy, which can be found in good Wellington bookstores such as your local Vic Books, or an e-version from if paper isn’t your thing. What a treat.


  • Nutshell


    Author: Ian McEwan

    Publisher: Jonathan Cape


    With 2016 the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (sad), we’ve been assailed with a slew of retellings and tributes to the Bard in the literary world. Novelists Anne Tyler, Jeanette Winterson, and Howard Jacobson have already published their Shakespeare-inspired novels, with Margaret Atwood set to release her retelling of The Tempest. Joining the ranks is Ian McEwan with Nutshell, his homage to Hamlet.

    This is a story with perhaps the most unlikely of narrators—a third-trimester fetus. As might be expected, this is no average fetus drifting serenely in amniotic fluid—this is a fetus with a formidable intelligence, educated on podcasts, and up-to-date on current events, biding its time until it will enter the world and claim its destiny. Not only that, but this fetus possesses an alarming knowledge of wine, thanks to its negligent carrier.

    Trudy is heavily pregnant and separated from her husband John, a lovesick, mildly successful poet. Residing in the dilapidated yet valuable marital home she’s taken up with John’s witless brother Claude, and together the callous and greedy pair hatch a shonky plan to sell the house and earn a cool few million. Their only witness to this villainy is, of course, the aforementioned fetus, who hears all from the womb.

    If you’re thinking it all sounds a bit ridiculous, that’s because it is—but it has to be, and McEwan is clearly enjoying the absurdity of it all. It’s his most ludicrous plot yet, but once your disbelief is suspended it’s an entertaining, playful read. Unfortunately, and perhaps not surprisingly, McEwan is getting crustier with age, using the fetus as a mouthpiece for his views on civilisation and, most bizarrely, transgender people. Did you really have to enforce your own bigotry on an innocent unborn baby, even one so educated? For that, I’m knocking off a star.


  • Danny Brown—Atrocity Exhibition

    4 ± ռ 


    I’m hyperventilating in the back room of the office, doing my best to hold it together despite the fact I’m pretty sure I just saw a goblin staring at me through the window. I’m on the 14th floor. I peek out from behind the cupboard, and the goblin stares at me and lets out a cackle.

    Someone’s outside, I snap around to meet their gaze, they’re asking if I want anything? I’m pretty sure they mean like coffee or something, but I figure it’s worth a shot and I ask him for a gun instead. I can barely contain my surprise when he slips me one. Armed with both the weapon and a newfound confidence, I point the gun at the goblin out the window and fire. Its smile disappears, I can hear its panicked screams as it slips from the windowsill. I’m triumphant, the beast is dead. I let out a war cry, my victory is assured. My mortal enemy vanquished.

    My colleague leans over and asks why in the name of christ I just threw my coffee mug at a pidgeon.

    I think I might be losing it.

    Nothing is quite right. People’s mouths move without sounds forming, shadows don’t line up uniformly. The ground feels like it’s constantly moving, not enough to be seriously worrying, but enough so that if you stop paying attention you’ll end up face down on the floor missing a tooth.

    This is Danny Brown’s Atrocity Exhibition. I haven’t heard such an off-putting album from such a popular artist in a very long time. Horns are blasted out of time, the drummer can’t seem to keep the beat, and I’m pretty sure I heard a guitar riff from that episode of the Mighty Boosh where they have doors in their heads. Danny is as off putting as ever, blasting lines about Kubrick and Spielberg at the same time as lines about coke and gang violence. But despite this absolute hodgepodge of noise, everything works so, so well together. It genuinely feels like a bad acid trip; it sounds like one of those crazy Ed Roth illustrations from the 80s where everyone is green and has those huge bugging out eyes and the misshapen hot rods. It makes me feel sick, and I love it.

    But this comes at a cost. The entire album feels like this and, while I usually applaud cohesiveness and a dedication to style, I just feel kinda sick. And not in that “woah wicked sick far out dude” kinda way, in the “oh christ where’s the nearest toilet” way. It’s an exhausting experience trying to listen to the album from start to finish. Despite the fact only one song is longer than four minutes the album feels like it lasts a lifetime. There’s no breather on the album, no nice change of pace before bringing you back. This is Danny’s wild ride and there’s no getting off.

    If you can stomach it this is an excellent album. This is what Rocky wanted At.Long.Last.A$AP to be, this is what Chance wished Acid Rap was. But it’s one of those albums that you’ll either love the first time you hear it or you’ll hate forever and ever, and it’s difficult to say which is the right opinion. In any case give it a listen, make yourself feel just a little bit ill, and decide if you like it or not.


  • About the Author ()

    Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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