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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Psapp: The Camels Back

27/10/08

Written by Katie Webster

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We were all rather chuffed this morning when we spotted Amelia’s Magazine was featured in this weeks Timeout!!
It’s not everyday that an exhibition offers a alternative world so bizarre, case so enthralling, decease as to make you surprised to find it’s still raining when you re-enter the street outside (it is Edinburgh afterall, more about it’s always raining). It’s like being lost in a matinee film only to find afterwards that the sun is still shining; like walking out of a nightclub and the birds are singing. Yet creating worlds and drawing you into them is what Canadian creative duo Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller do best. And it’s their latest show at Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery, is as absorbing as they come.

I like galleries in which visitors can interact with the artwork. There are no pretty paintings here, no glass separating precious art from prying eyes. The first thing you see when you enter the Fruitmarket Gallery is a small-scale house constructed entirely from old books. The house has no windows but it does have a door, and inside I am pleased to see a scholarly gentleman, three rambunctious children and a Japanese tourist secretly wielding a camera phone.

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In the dark of the next room appears the 2005 installation Opera for a Small Room. The room is contained within a life-size chipwood box, and to see in the audience must gather around the window, or crane to see through holes in the walls and cracks around the doorway. Inside are twenty-four antique speakers playing, periodically, operas, arias, pop tunes, the sound of someone scuffling about, a voice that mutters seemingly to itself. The décor is shabby and littered with almost 2000 records in stacks. Outside a train is heard rumbling past, the chandelier rattles. When it rains the speakers crackle. You get the feeling you have stumbled upon a remote and rundown property, trespassing on the life of some kind of music-worshipping recluse.

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Yet the real delight of the exhibition is to be found upstairs, where, confronted with a door and, once you’ve overcome whether to open it-you find yourself thrust into a dark and cluttered world that looks like a midnight flea market with a strange audio accompaniment. Old dresses hang from racks, saucers bear the remains of toast and tea, and miniature models merge with old books and nostalgic bric-a-brac. Around the room appear, between this forest of collectables, mechanical paraphernalia: speakers that whisper greetings, snatches of dialogue and fragments of a story that piece together the tale of the Dark Pool. What you come to learn is that Cardiff and Miller are, essentially, horders; this final room a captivating and voyeuristic plunge into the depths of a stranger’s life and soul.

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Leaving the Fruitmarket Gallery after exploring this exhibition is a little like reluctantly finishing a really good book. The reality in this case is far less exciting: the rain continues, the intrigue is gone, and you are left feeling sorry for the people who will inevitably have to dismantle such intensely detailed and intricate works.

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Desert two frisky musicians in a junk yard stacked high with second hand children’s musical instruments, approved a box of magic tricks and a few bon bons for inspiration and out pop Psapp.

I fell head over heals with Psapp with their contribution to the Hallam Foe soundtrack, this Tricycle. With twinkly layered sounds of instrumentals and vocals sweeter than honey, it was bound to be a winner for the romantics and dreamers out there. Fresh, yet strangely familiar their third album The Camels Back is no exception.

Opening with a crash bang wallop, those cheeky little noises poking out that Psapp are so renowned for proudly ooze through tracks like Homicide, Marshrat and Mister Ant. Vaguely reminiscent of Young Marble Giants, Psapp truly prove themselves in songs such as Parker when these abstract instrumentals jigsaw puzzle together with the fragile vocals of Galia Durant.

A soundtrack of adventures, The Camels Back is a sophisticated collection of chirpy, uplifting little numbers which require a listener with an imagination.

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One Response to “Psapp: The Camels Back”

  1. MrBirch says:

    God I live Psapp. I highly recommend seeing them live, a happier experience you be hard pushed to beat.

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