Staff Picks: Petite Noir, ‘The Ghost Network,’ and ‘Black Spider Memos’


Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this weekly feature, our editorial staffers recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed most in the past seven days. Click through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

The Ghost Network by Catie DiSabato

I just began reading Catie DiSabato’s The Ghost Network, a mystery disguised as journalism, an investigation of a missing major music star (“Molly Metropolis”) and some sort of secret society waiting to be discovered. It’s exciting to read a novel with so much ambition in its construction, but one that is simultaneously concerned with a topic like the relationship between a female pop star and her fans, elevating “girl” culture to its rightful status as a matter for thoughtful literary inquiry. — Sarah Seltzer, Editor-at-Large

A Walk Among the Tombstones (dir. Scott Frank)

Like much of America, I didn’t make seeing this one much of a priority when it hit theaters in the fall—marketed, as it was, as yet another Liam-Neeson-sternly-shooting-people movie. It was my loss, and yours too, because Walk is one of the finest mysteries in many a moon, too moody and introspective for the Taken crowd, yet kept from its ideal audience by a campaign that targeted said crowd. Writer/director Scott Frank (adapting Lawrence Block’s novel) constructs a film of dread and consequence, a wildly unpredictable thriller brimming with memorable characters and earned tension. It’s a riveting picture, and one I couldn’t take my eyes off. Frank wrote the screenplays to Out of Sight, Dead Again, Minority Report, and many other terrific movies, but this is both his second film as director and second straight box-office disappointment (after the similarly gripping The Lookout). Who knows what that means for his long-term career prospects, but if we don’t get more from this very gifted filmmaker, that’d be a real shame. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

“Hey! Mr. Sky” by Jackie-O Motherfucker

There’s nothing more frustrating than getting a tiny snippet of some unknown song stuck in your head. For months, I had been hearing about five seconds of this track, and couldn’t even begin to place it. So I was thrilled to find it on rediscovering the post-rock band Jackie-O Motherfucker’s album-length foray into Americana, 2005’s Flags of the Sacred Harp. Like all great songs, “Hey! Mr. Sky” is deeply depressing and liberating at once. It’s a sort of first-person murder ballad, layering the gentle ache of folk music over the expansiveness of post-rock in a way that — fittingly — seems to bend the entire song towards oblivion. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

Petite Noir — “Come Inside”

“Come Inside” is the opening track on Petite Noir’s (AKA Yannick Ilunga) EP, The King of Anxiety. The EP’s later, chillier tracks sonically correspond to the album’s royally unhappy title — drawing on the feelings of coldness and isolation Ilunga described in The Guardian, which he began to feel after moving to London from Cape Town. There, he realized “nothing feels like home… because I’m always changing, changing changing.” But the sounds of such a lack of anchorage — alongside the influences of his parents’ love of dance music from all around Africa — pair “Come Inside”‘s heavy beats and thick baritone vocals a surprisingly joyous energy. I’d even go so far as to say — despite it seeming odd that it’s coming from an album called The King of Anxiety — that “Come Inside,” with its coupling of levity and intensity, is the perfect summer song. Petite Noir has also gotten the attention of Solange and Yasiin Bey, and is definitely worth keeping a close eye on as he readies a full-length album, which he also told The Guardian will be “a lot angrier, a lot louder, [and] a lot more political.” — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor

Matias Cuevas’ The Fire in the Mirror

Argentine painter Matias Cuevas plays with fire, and the result is glorious—as seen in his dramatic, eye-catching solo show titled The Fire in the Mirror that quietly opened at the Lower East Side’s Cuevas Tilleard Projects on Thursday (on view until June 28th). Partly the result of an epiphany Cuevas had in a hardware store and partly a nod to Cuevas’ classical training, the twelve paintings are a unique exploration beyond the traditional boundaries of medium. Using everyday items like buckets and household carpeting alongside acrylics and paint thinner (plus the aforementioned fire), Cuevas transforms a familiar texture (carpet) into a series of unexpectedly striking, polychromatic works of art. — Ona Abelis, Editorial Apprentice

Black Spider Memos

Several of my friends, some Canadians and an American, are returning from longstanding English exile to North America this month. The return — and I’m thankful for it — could easily be justified by the results of the recent election, but that isn’t the reason. As I understand it, they simply can no longer abide English culture. Now, I know I’m an American provincial of the type predisposed to know-nothing Anglophilia, one who lived in London for only about six months, but I find that culture sometimes hilarious. Take, for instance, today’s publication of the ominously named “black spider memos,” a series of letters from Prince Charles to various elected officials made available by Supreme Court mandate. British tabloid culture is so mentally ill that nearly every newspaper has an ongoing live update feed devoted to the revealed contents of these letters. But, anticlimactically, they appear to be nothing but an amazing collection of deeply thought yet inappropriate nudges to get politicians to consider:

Beef farming, dairy quotas, the power of supermarkets, Lynx helicopters, badger culling, Irish gaols, the fate of sea birds, derelict hospitals, listed buildings, Scott and Shackleton’s Antarctic huts, summer schools, old-fashioned teaching methods, herbal medicines and of course, albatrosses and the Patagonian toothfish

Read more here! — Jonathon Sturgeon, Literary Editor