5D STOKE NEWINGTON ROAD
LONDON N16 8BH
In December 2008 a parliament, for that is what a group of owls is called, assembled in the famous Pure Evil Gallery cellar for a solo show by Dscreet. Graffoto raved about Dscreet’s solo show in that famous cellar and indeed a pair of Owls has adorned NoLions Towers ever since.
Ten Years After we flock to BSMT Space, again a cellar, for Dscreet’s first London gig – sorry, show since then. Titled Top 40 Covers, Dscreet presented his painted homages to a variety of musical highlights in a show staged as a music gig and BSMT rocked that night!
That opening Thursday was special for Dscreet on several levels; he appears to be One Hundred Years old and evidently has immense wisdom like his owls but opening night was DScreet’s 40th birthday. The choice of 40 as the key number in the show title will resonate with ancient music fans from the pre digital era for whom everything came to a Grinding Halt at 6pm on Sunday evenings as the Top 40 rundown aired on Radio 1. Claire Grogan was probably not available but a suitable rock ambience was brought to the venue by Brick Lane street musician Lewis Floyd Henry, opening for Dscreet.
Sadly the “phone in the crowd” recording makes this sound crap which completely undersells how hard this dude rocked but there was a lot of rocking going on that night.
Lewis Floyd Henry – Live at BSMT Space
Lewis also has old school pedigree as a proper graff writer, that’s the kind of attention to detail DScreet has put into this show.
Dscreet owls have perched on East London’s walls for years, normally Graffoto likes to pick a few pellets from the archives just to revel in the history and development of the subject artist out on the streets but with Dscreet did Too Much Too Young making such a selection an invidious task.
Of course, not to forget some Brilliant Compositions
As his owls are so popular, the fact that Dscreet is a phenomenal graffiti writer is perhaps a little bit overlooked. The owls and the graffiti both featured in this combative collab with Conor Harrington, we loved the blood spurting everywhere and note also the musical reference in the tribute to Adam “MCA” Yauch of Beastie Boys.
Although there is a neat link between age 40/top 40 for this gig, the theme isn’t a contrivance for the benefit of a show, musical references have featured frequently in Dscreet’s street art. The tribute to Lou Reed based on the Velvet Underground lyrics to I’ll be Your Mirror is cemented on a Shoreditch wall with a pair of mirror image owls, in the gallery the same song is executed on an actual mirror.
Similarly Dscreet has covered The Doors on the streets and in the show.
In recent months a demonic character has appeared in DScreet’s street art, generally the character, believed to be the artist’s alter ego, is up to no good, some kind of Devil In Disguise.
This demonic character appears in one of the shows highlight, the DScreet visual rendition of the Bob Marley tune Time Will Tell. Bob Marley has also featured in DScreet’s street art, Marley’s classic Three Little Birds become three lurid owls.
The troublemaker is conjuring flames from the palm of his hands in the unmistakable Firestarter while Dscreet’s friend and fellow writer Nylon makes an collaborative contribution.
BSMT’s cellar space terminates in a pair of vaulted cells which lend themselves to something installational, DScreet blacks out the space and illuminates his characters with a phosphorescent glow evoking that thrill when auditorium lights go down and faint shadows stir indicating stars hefting guitars and adjusting codpieces, that point in a gig where anticipation ends and sonic delivery commences. Mouseover this pic to see the effect.
Ceremony – Joy Division (guitar) c/w Reign In Blood – Slayer *Mouseover image*
The sexual murmurings on Aphex Twins’ “Windowlicker” translate on canvas into a curiously tilted owl, or at least that’s how it seemed at first glance until longer scrutiny revealed the secret duality in the image, perhaps I have had too sheltered an upbringing as it did take quite a while.
Talking Heads’ cinematic rock gig film Stop Making Sense (34 years ago? Really???) begins with lead singer David Byrne strolling onto an empty stage with just a guitar and a beatbox, things can hardly get more rock ‘n roll and it’s not a million miles from how Lewis Floyd Henry rocked BSMT. Hanging on the wall is a lone guitar, painted black with the lyrics to Psycho Killer penned on it.
Mother Sky by Can refers to a droning throb of krautrock sustained by a plodding riff and drug addled lyrics, neatly captured on canvas by an unending psychedelic flow of vaporous digits streaming out of a can, madness I say (as did Can).
These owls may have the serious stares of classical music geeks but their spiky hair do screams punk and they don’t get much more OG punk than The Clash.
In a list of greatest hits it takes some doing to stand out but among the candidate gig highlights was Dscreet’s imagining of Black Sabbath’s Planet Caravan. The Sabb have of course featured in Dscreet’s street art in his interpretation of Symptom Of The Universe.
It was like spotting an old friend to spy an owl from the Words Up show perched in the BSMT Space rafters, which bring us right back where we started from.
The history of rock is often forged in grimy downstairs locations, think of the Cavern in Liverpool, the 100 Club in London. Dscreet’s opening was as much an event as it was the beginning of an exhibition of some painted art. The show must go on (until 1st November). The blues that rocked BSMT Space’s subterranean cellar that night didn’t make anyone homesick.
Lewis Floyd Henry rocks BSMT
All photos/phone videos by Dave Stuart
As there is scarcely a more secretive hard to find gallery in London, this pic shows the door into the basement trumpeted by a Dscreet A-board