Science Skateboards – ‘The Important Nothing’ video

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To get to the point, ‘The Important Nothing’ is really darn good and you should watch it. If unavailable in your bricks n’ mortar skate shop (R.I.P. SS20, support your local), you can get a copy from the Palomino.

Within a relatively small scene such as the UK, reviewing home grown videos is a delicate task, because they’re invariably a labour of love, by someone with admirable intentions who is likely to at least know someone you know. This small degree of separation means that each such review in our now extinct domestic print media has tended to be super positive. Who would say they didn’t love a work that someone has slaved over, with little commercial return, especially if you could conceivably session a spot with individuals involved in the near future? But you also want to be credible. A review can be a recommendation.

With internet clips vying for attention, why should you, the reader, part with both money and time to watch a full length vid, if you’ve been told that each and every UK video is brilliant? I wrote that the Isle video was excellent, because it was, I’m now going to tell you the Science video is more than worthy of your 25 minutes and £10, because it assuredly is. Unfortunately there are a number of videos that came out between these two offerings that are less than great. Because we’re all friends here, those sub-par offerings are left unmentioned rather than subjected to some narcissistic display of mean-spirited wit.

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Science are an interesting outfit, and are part of the movement of small firms that are increasingly important to our culture and lifestyle. To distill an argument advanced in some detail here, the act of ‘just doing’ something, like setting up a small skate firm, stamping your tastes onto a corner of the market, keeping yourself motivated in the face of the pressures of adult life, connecting to other scenes and firms, and hooking up a community of like-minded skateboarders not only keeps skateboarding diverse and unique in the face of increasing commercialisation, but it helps us pursue our essential reason for being – the urge to create (our “species essence” in Marx’s view) – that is so often lost in the alienating experience of the 9 to 5. And when motivations are this pure, the outcome is more often than not cool as fuck.

Starting in 2006, owner Chris Morgan has been responsible for the lion’s share of the brand’s look and feel, and is behind the editing, design and large part of the filming of ‘The Important Nothing’. His interview with Crossfire is a good read, and provides detailed insight into one man’s personal vision of skateboarding balanced with a keenness to frequently collaborate (including with big names like Sergej Vutuc and Jon Burgerman and team rider Sam Taylor). Aesthetically, Science could be placed within the tradition of post-Blueprint 1.0 UK companies that combine unashamed artiness with an appreciation of gritty UK street scenes, 90s callbacks and golden era hip hop, soul and lo-fi indie, alongside Landscape, the National Co and Isle to name the most obvious. Where the National have looked to the hot shit that comes out of Sweden in their team line up and video aesthetic, Science make connections with the equally hot Japanese and SF scenes – and ‘The Important Nothing’ has strong similarities with recent Japanese independents like the Lenz videos.

Ph: Dan Tomlinson ollie noseblunt transfer by Chris Morgan

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The filming style is unobtrusive, and avoids the closer-than-close fisheye steez currently en vogue and beloved of the Magenta bros and some of the aforementioned Japanese films. There’s a nice nostalgia, with a lot of black and white and deliberate graininess (and the jazz intro keeps things far more classic Stereo Super 8 than Palace VHS), with callbacks to a 90s hip hop appreciation of kung fu movies and frequent flashes of primary colours complementing the lovely DVD packaging and Science’s graphic output and logo. The soundtrack fizzes with a nigh on optimum balance of hip hop, soul, stoner rock and indie that made me think of some of the classic UK and East Coast vids – with Dan Magee, Josh Stewart or Chris Mulhern likely to be pretty stoked on the choices. Rounding off the ‘just right’ mix of characteristics is the 25 minute running time – if my knee wasn’t jacked, I’d have picked my board up and raced into the grotty streets of Long Eaton as soon as the credits rolled (in stark contrast to the soporific effect of the 1 hour plus running time of certain very big budget hammer fests).

Highlights from the skating includes London-resident, Leicester ex-pat and prolific scribbler Sam Taylor and his quick feet, loose style and mastery of wallrides and no-complies. Pete Buckley, whose time in Sapporo, cements the Japanese connection, rocks a classic Girl/Choc (circa Mouse/Paco) steez and boss man Chris Morgan can do stylish new-old (no-complies) as well as old-new tricks (refuting the assumption that 30+ skaters can’t do good flips). I dig any Luka Pinto stuff since his Eleventh Hour section, and really like how he and Glenn Fox have established this unique style that Channel Islands (get it?) Quim Cardona looseness with Magenta quick-feet.Ben Cruickshank reps the lanky-tech (more golden era Girl/Choc – gangly natural street styles of Shamil Randle) and the dope Saafir track.

Dan Beall has been another favourite since his standout Baghead Flats section. Dan reps a different fine vintage of street skateboarding, strongly British in style – the nimble precision honed on rough terrain that other slight-of-frame bros like Welsh Tommy and Jin Shizmizu also rep.

The premiere went off.

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There’s a rad SF friends section that includes relatively well known locals like Tony Manfre and John Lindsay and the combination of spots doesn’t overkill the hill bombs (and includes Fort Miley, some DIY spots and street that isn’t sloping at 45 degrees). Dan Tomlinson is sick, with powerful pop and clean trick selection, that contrasts with Josh Cox’s unusual trick bag and manny mastery. Holdtight London alumnus Joe Sivell holds down the last section, with Roots Manuva setting the scene for tech and fashion that throws a contemporary British-take on early 2000s Puzzle glory days. Remember Stephane Giret? I’ve been betting a pirate’s hoard of gold doubloons on a come-back for both the tricks and the wardrobe of that brother, and Joe’s leading the charge to make sure I’m soon a wealthy man (and laughing at the rest of you as the pound sterling continues to fall through the floor).

I don’t want to do this video a disservice by listing too many historic references (that many of you won’t have been around for… but I’d bet more doubloons, and maybe a bronze cudgel and a horned helm, that Chris Morgan knows exactly what I’m talking about). Suffice to say, a bit like Pontus’ amazing Polar video, you can enjoy it equally as a fresh feeling contemporary offering, if you have the gift of youth, or as a life affirming, knee cartilage re-growing re-up of a certain era that burns very brightly in our sub-cultural memory.

Chris Lawton

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Isle Skateboards – Vase review

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In common with skateboarders across the UK, I spent a mid-week evening huddled in front of Isle’s debut full-length video ‘Vase’. This was courtesy of Nottingham’s 42 skate shop, with a large crowd squeezed onto Rough Trade’s trendy utilitarian chipboard benches drinking expensive craft lager.

The audience mixed fans of OG Blueprint, those who’ve seen and enjoyed Jacob Harris’ previous work, especially the award winning ‘Eleventh Hour’, and daft youth who don’t know or care about any of those things. This context is relevant to y’all, as any familiarity with Isle co-owner Nick Jensen’s other life as a fine artist, the brand’s unrepentant positioning towards the ‘arty’ end of the spectrum, and the series of high-concept web edits for Dazed & Confused could lead you to fear an experience veering towards the Quartersnacks parody of late-stage Alien Workshop: “seagulls….. seeaaaagullls….. seeeaaaa gullllllls”. But it doesn’t veer that way. For full disclosure, I really rate Isle’s thoughtful graphic output and dug their Dazed & Confused stuff – but I’m a pretentious bastard.

For more down-to-earth types, Vase manages to be more than a little arty whilst fully committing to raw, relatable street skating on almost entirely crusty ass spots. It’s urgent, fun, short and snappy, and makes you want to skate in the tradition of the fine ol’ proper skate videos made by old folk in ancient times. I say “video” not “film”: no one likes a trust-fund Tarquin who calls every Instagram post a fucking ‘feature film’ and they wouldn’t like Vase, and all is well with that.

Three things to cover: the filming and editing; the music; and the skating. The prophesied artsiness in the editing is pretty paired down – grainy skits of the team and a nice linking theme of silver party balloons initialing each skaters’ name that drift forlornly in the wind, deflate on spiked railings, or float out across the Thames. And quite a few floating vases plus the VX-as-flowerpot motif used in the magazine ads. But the filming is a game changer – with Jacob Harris taking the fidgety VX mastery one associates with Minuit/Magenta’s Yoan Taillandier to new levels, sticking unbelievably close to the skater, from super low down, and jerking towards or away from the obstacle to create a sense of speedy dynamism that queasily draws you along with the action. In this, Vase has similarities with Static, Minuit or the Japanese Lenz films – but overall looks entirely different, not least in the bleached palette that makes everything look drenched by weak, winter sunlight. Definite contender for honorary doctorate in VX studies, making others’ switch to HD look all weird again just as we’d finally gotten used to it. Vase also feels like a change-up on the more sedate, dreamy Eleventh Hour.

Onto the music, which is again a change on Jacob Harris’ previous stuff – eschewing Motown for a heavy 1980s UK electronic bias: Yazzoo, New Order…. Ian Rees spent the entire video delightedly bobbing about in my peripheral vision. But not to everyone’s tastes. Hip hop heads and Mixtape/Static purists left grumpily claiming song-for-song replay of the BBC’s Synth Britannia.

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Finally the skating. Despite some of it being obscured by Will Golding’s massive head in front of the screen (how can someone blessed with such precise, dexterous feet have a head the size and shape of a Looney Toons anvil?), the skating mixes relatable lines with the occasional mind-blowing banger. Tom Knox, with pro status awarded with the video’s release, opens with super quick feet, enviable flatland game and the closest of camera follows (or maybe I was just coveting his sneakers) and nails one of Vase’s super-bangers – ollieing out to a tight wallride then dropping into a subway underpass (with subways reoccurring later). This was one of my favourite sections of the video. Casper Brooker, with long legs that never seem to bend too much, nails the other highly notable banger – a kickflip across the width of the Southbank 7 into the flatbank the other side.

Paul Shier and Jon Nguyen share a section. Co-owner and transatlantic Blueprint hero Shier is short and sweet, with fast ledge combos and whipped flips on tight banks (no signature tres flip though) and Nguyen filling in the post-Blueprint hole left by Coakley: the bearded Yank with the super precise flip tricks, unafraid of jumping switch stance down curved hubbas. Enjoying Shier’s section, and then writing about it, hopefully pays penance for the time, shortly after the release of ‘Lost & Found’ when I (drunk out of my mind) sang “heart breaker” at him whilst he was waiting at a bar in Barcelona, a performance I sustained for a good one and a half minutes longer than either of us were comfortable with. That said bar was themed on a fairies’ grotto leaves absolutely nothing that isn’t drenched in shame. As someone of similar vintage, it’s stoking to see Shier continue to put it down to such a level – something he’d better continue doing until he drops dead at 103, otherwise I’m summoning a posse to fly out to LA to sing “heartbreaker” at him until everyone’s face melts like Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Sylvian Tognelli and Nick Jensen have solid sections mid-way through the video. For Jensen, with so many amazing sections under his belt at what is still a relatively young age – including sections that are contenders for ‘best section’ in videos stacked with great skaters (‘Lost & Found’, ‘City of Rats’ and ‘Eleventh Hour’) – it must be hard to plan a strategy, especially if you’re a notorious over thinker. In the case of Vase, Jensen opts for something a little more planned out than his more spontaneous ‘City of Rats’ section, with lines that seem deceptively simple (bump to bar ollies) before morphing into all switch or alternate ambidexterity. A couple of enormous switch flips, one down a stair set that would have been a section ender ten years’ ago, are thrown in the middle to remind us that Jensen can skate everything better than almost everyone.

The last section honours are held down by stylish Welshman Chris Jones – which ties with Tom Knox as my favourite of the video (on first watch, although you know how different sections churn around as favourites on repeat watches). A couple of the bank to block/bar tricks and the gap ollie into a tight bank stand out as the big tricks, but I really loved his couple of downhill lines through subway underpasses – long, fast flatland with alternate switch and regs tricks and then out-of-the-blue snaps down decent sized stair sets. He has a cool lanky, slightly hunched yet relaxed steez as well – kind of like Philly OG Brian Douglas – coupled with that enormous pop. Long downhill underpass lines for #trendwatch in 2016? Its got to be 20 years since Ricky, Tim O’Connor and Fred Gall did them on Eastern Exposure and 411.

Marks of a good skate video include an urge to skate immediately after (and at least 3 days of desperately wanting to push yourself to skate better before slipping into the usual tentative mediocrity) and a strong memory of both the detail and the overall feel of the thing. All those criteria are well met by Vase. I knew I’d dig it, as a fan of Blueprint, Eleventh Hour and a bunch of the skaters in their own rights, but I didn’t expect it to make such an original, skate-year defining impression.

Hope this installs Isle where they deserve to be in the eyes of the British (and global) consuming public, especially amongst those who are unafraid to take an hour out of a skate trip to visit a gallery.

Chris Lawton

Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC

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We’ve waited a long time for this one. Crowd-funding for the making of ‘Salad Days’, a look at the incredibly fertile hardcore punk movement that exploded out of Washington DC in the early 80s, first started over four years ago when brief snippets and enticing trailers started to work their way across the internets. And now it’s finally here…

We live in an age now where so many bands, movements and artists are getting to tell their stories in film. Every week there’s a new music documentary to see, a story to tell, but Salad Days is something special. From the very start, the Washington DC punk scene documented itself. More than any other punk scene in the world at that time, the participants took care to photograph, film and record everything that was happening. They knew what they were doing was important and special and wanted it preserved. “I didn’t want to own the scene, I just wanted there to be one,” explains Ian Mackaye, who through his work with Minor Threat, Fugazi, Dischord Records and many more is understandably the lynch pin and constant through the whole movie. So the upshot of this is that there is a wealth of incredible footage in this film. It rushes past, much like the music, in a high-speed, high-energy blur. This is not any easy film to sit still and watch in a cinema, as each band and song crashes by, every moment made me want to leap out of my seat and explode.

Ph: Ian Mackaye of Minor Threat, Wilson Center, DC, 1983 by Jim Saah

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Film maker Scott Crawford has done an incredible job of capturing the spirit and energy of the time. Having been involved in the scene in DC from a very young age (he was just 12 when he started going to gigs and making fanzines), he was trusted to tell the story and help the various participants open up.

Running chronologically from when Bad Brains exploded onto the scene and everything went FAST with bands like SOA, Void. Teen idles, Minor Threat, Untouchables, Youth Bridge, to the mid-80s ‘Revolution Summer’ years with Rites Of Spring, Embrace, Gray Matter, Dave Grohl’s first band Mission Impossible. They then move onto the end of the 80s as the alternative rock explosion beckoned, and Grohl, fresh out of Dischord legends Scream propelled Nirvana into the mainstream, bringing Fugazi attention they never expected, Jawbox a major label deal and the rest is history.

There are so many magical moments in ‘Salad Days’ that it’s difficult to know where to start but here’s a few. The footage of Void is utterly off-the-hook insane and demonic, the bit where MacKaye talks about Straight Edge and how he still gets people, to this day, phoning him at the Dischord office and screaming “hey Ian, I’m drunk, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT!!” before slamming the phone down, the self-belief, politics and conviction that run through every band, the thought that they really believed they were making a difference and could change. Subject to change. The realisation of just how young everyone one was when this started…

“Salad days” is a Shakespearean idiomatic expression to refer to a youthful time, accompanied by the inexperience, enthusiasm, idealism, innocence, or indiscretion that one associates with a young person.”

That says it all.

James Sherry

You can pre-order the film on Vimeo as it will be Video On Demand from August 4th.

Paul Regan – Hull Metal Jacket Part II

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You should know that Paul Regan has arguably the best pop in the country and packs a plethora of technical prowess. With those two feats in mind get stuck in to his full bonus part from the Hull scene video Hull Metal Jacket. It’s possibly his best footage to date.

You can order the DVD by messaging for one from this FB page.

Cliché Gypsy Life Book/DVD

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If you have already seen this on iTunes then you will know it’s a keeper. Cliché’s ongoing Gypsy Life missions will never get old as their team grows worlwide laying down some of the best skateboarding out there and this is arguably their best production to date.

The full team are set a roadtrip to task with small PD’s and goals to see who can last the entire journey. Its far more entertaining than a straight up skate video with incredible skating from the UKs ‪Kyron Davis‬, Max Geronzi‬, Paul Hart, guest skater Chet Childress and many more, but we ain’t spoiling it. Go find this in your local skate shop and see for yourself, you may end up on the road this summer as a result, as this book that comes packed with photos shot from the trip and full DVD is one you should cherish.

Grey Area

Words: Guy Jones

greyarea_dvdsleeveFor those of you unaware, ‘Grey Area‘ is a delicious visual skateboard buffet, highlighting the often over-looked Polish scene. I recommend the purchase of this dvd for a number of reasons: Firstly because of the rare spots, which means the lines (which are vast) are fresh and exciting. Secondly, it comes with a top soundtrack and thirdly the filming and editing is seriously crisp. You have to congratulate Kuba Kaczmarczyk and Paweł Piotr Przybył who were behind this project as this production is a must see.

When you’re watching rhythmic lines and subjects going fast as fuck, people often don’t notice the filming qualities unless they’re captured terribly. Look out for the styles of recording throughout, as they are often as impressive as the actual content, not to mention the actual aesthetic which is overdosing in dope. The skate skillin’ is complimented with various filler shots namely of wildlife, soldiers and other items of interest and all importantly, not overdone. There’s an impeccable balance.

Some of the skaters that feature in this include Michał Juraś, Krzysiek Poskrobko, Danijel Stankovic, the Polar team and a solid bulk of the Polish and Swedish scene, who are criminally underexposed. The gnar destroyers who are present in this flick make incredible use of the abundance of derelict and raw surroundings. Poland has some beautifully unique architecture which creates lines aplenty. As a result the lads make good use of almost anything in sight and do it extremely well. This is particularly pertinent to my man Michał Juraś, who not only holds down a full part but features in various montages throughout raising his footage count to near on 10 minutes. Some of the spots he skates are barely spots and that makes the appreciation bar peak. True player!

Michał Juraś with one of the scariest looking ollie’s of all time in Wrocław. Ph: Kuba Bączkowski

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The sections are laid out in such a way that it’s mandatory to watch the whole video rather than skipping sections and each one highlights something fabulous. There’s an abundance of montages including a brief history of the DIY struggles and accomplishments, ‘Back to the 90’s’ and ‘Fun’. The latter alone should entice anyone viewing this review right now to pick up a copy of this film. The content fully justifies the anticipation.

Krzysiek Poskrobko pops a fatty. Ph: Kuba Baczkowski

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The soundtrack is a banger, ranging from psychedelic rock, raw 90’s hip hop, 60’s sun-hunting sounds and other sub-genres that get you even more hyped on the incredible skating that ensues. Watch the trailer if you need more persuasion, then go out and buy this keeper of a scene video to see some of the most authentic, genuine scenes in Europe. Grey Area I salute you. Ziiiiiing Peaaaace!

Grey Area is available now at various UK skate shops, hunt one out today.

“Grey Area” The Skateboard Movie / The Trailer from Grey Area Video on Vimeo.

David Gravette in CSFU

David Gravette’s new part in the Creature‘s CSFU video is absolutely ridiculous. All terrain is slayed, both palms are probably resembling pizza’s and the tricks are absolute jokes. If you are going to watch anything online this week, this is it.

Scroll down the page for more extra footage and look out for the new video in your local skate shop or free with Thrasher.

Joe Gavin Snake Eyes Die Remix

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Sean Lomax has remixed Joe Gavin‘s HD footage from the Snake Eyes Die DVD that takes Skate Edit of the Week hands down. Visit Note to pick up the full production featuring a plethora of Manchester’s finest. “Ecstatic, there it is…”

Matt Pennington’s Ordinary Madness section

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Death Skateboards surprised everyone with a brand new team rider featured on their ‘Ordinary Madness’ DVD that dropped a few months back. Watch Denver’s finest go here and go pick up this fine DVD from your local skater owned shop.

Win a DGK Package!

Following the success of ‘Parental Advisory’ DVD that is available right now in your local skate shop, the DGK crew have sent us a package of goodness for you to win this month.

To get your mitts on a new DGK logo deck, Haters Hat, Bracelet, DVD and stickers, just answer the question below. Also, ‘LIKE’ the Crossfire Facebook page as we will contact you from there with a private message if you are pulled from the hat. One lucky winner will take this lot away on the 20th April.

You may well find the answer in this feature.

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