Have you ever played those kinds of games with yourself or your friends where you make lists of various and sundry pop culture items? If you could only watch one TV show for the rest of your life, or read one book, or listen to only one musician? They call those sorts of things desert island lists and usually they’re efforts in mental masturbation or at least a kind of reflexive attempt to sound cool or interesting or just well-read or –listened.
Ricardo Cavalo’s 101 Artists to Listen To Before You Die, to be released in September from Nobrow, is not quite like your lists. Cavalo’s lists are just as subjective as yours are, but his whole approach is specific and objective and low-fi that it’s utterly charming and often quite beautiful.
Presented like a journal, with two-page spreads listing his tastes (the left side is a description and the right a quirky drawing of the musicians), 101 Musicians reads like your obsessive friend’s scrapbook, with comments like “When I discovered this group I got madly into them” about Interpol, with a handmade version of the band’s logo and a cute image on the left page and an oddball drawing of the band on the right.
Occasionally the comments flow to free-form jazzlike improvisation, like the page below – it’s kind of beautiful, isn’t it?
And his images have this kind of outsider art vibe to them that makes them feel symbolically representational, if that makes any sense – the image of Dolly Parton below seems to encapsulate everything we know and feel about her in one unique, delightfully simple but strikingly resonant image.
I enjoyed my visit to Ricardo Cavalo’s desert island, and his list has me thinking about my list, which you might see someday here on the Bulletin. Should I admit that I kind of love Dolly Parton too? Hmm, I’m not sure I’m as brave as Cavalo…