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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Number 10: Mirror Animations, a film by Harry Smith

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Another Harry Smith film that’s very similar to the one featured here a couple of weeks ago, Number 11, which is also entitled Mirror Animations. Smith wrote a description for this one: “An exposition of Buddhism and the Kaballah in the form of a collage. The final scene shows Agaric mushrooms growing on the moon while the Hero and Heroine row by on a cerebrum.” The copy at YouTube has an improvised score which isn’t very flattering. The film runs for around 4 minutes so I’d suggest finding something of that length from elsewhere. Elastic Dance by African Head Charge works well.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Number 11: Mirror Animations, a film by Harry Smith
Meeting Harry Smith by Drew Christie
Heaven and Earth Magic by Harry Smith
Harry Smith revisited
The art of Harry Smith, 1923–1991

 


Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part Four

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LIFE, September 9th, 1966. Photo by Yale Joel.

Continuing the psychedelic mega-mix based on Jon Savage’s list of “100 mind-expanding masterpieces” (see this post). The fourth of the six mixes is the first visit to the USA, with songs from the years 1965 to 1967 arranged in mostly chronological order. As before, the selections from the Savage 100 are in bold, and I’ve added notes about my additions or amendments.

US psychedelia differs from the UK variety in its origins—there’s often a country or folk influence where British bands tended to be working from a background of R&B—and in the political reality that lurks underneath the spaced-out sentiments. UK psychedelia can be whimsical to a degree that tips into childishness, the stakes are often nothing more serious than the risk of being busted for illicit drug use; America was a nation at war overseas and at home, with riots and assassinations forming a backdrop to many of these songs. Kaleidoscope’s Keep Your Mind Open sounds like it might be a typical plea for freer thinking but the lyrics address the war in Vietnam, and the song fades out to the sounds of gunfire.

US Psychedelia, Part One by Feuilleton on Mixcloud

Radio ad — Psych Out
The Byrds — Eight Miles High (first version)
The Charlatans — Alabama Bound
Jefferson Airplane — Blues From An Airplane
Country Joe & The Fish — Section 43
Great SocietySomeone To Love
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band — Electricity
Oxford Circle — Foolish Woman
The Vejtables — Feel The Music
The 13th Floor Elevators — Slip Inside This House (The Savage 100 has Roller Coaster but I got hooked on the momentum of this one—which is actually from 1968—via a compilation.)
The Count Five — Psychotic Reaction
The Magic Mushrooms — It’s-A-Happening (One of the outstanding numbers on the original Nuggets compilation.)
The Sons Of Adam — Feathered Fish
Love — 7 & 7 Is
The Beach Boys — Good Vibrations
Sopwith Camel — Frantic Desolation
The Doors — Crystal Ship
The Seeds — Mr. Farmer
Kaleidoscope (US) — Keep Your Mind Open
Radio ad — Vox Wah-Wah Pedal
The Electric Prunes — I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night (Savage has Get Me To The World On Time but this is one of my favourite psych songs of all.)
Mystery Trend — Johnny Was A Good Boy
The Moving Sidewalks — 99th Floor (The first single by a band featuring ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons.)
Moby Grape — Omaha

Previously on { feuilleton }
Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part Three
Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part Two
Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part One
What Is A Happening?
My White Bicycle
Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake
Tomorrow Never Knows
The Dukes declare it’s 25 O’Clock!
A splendid time is guaranteed for all

 


Weekend links 243

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Genesia (2011) by Bette Burgoyne.

• “…so I started buying these old gay porn novels, just for the covers and kept on collecting them.” Maitland McDonagh on the underexamined world of gay pulp. McDonagh’s 120 Days Books is reprinting some of these scarce titles. More gay erotica: Plans are afoot to republish Des Grieux, the rare prequel to Teleny or The Reverse of the Medal (1893), a novel often attributed (without much evidence) to Oscar Wilde.

Merricat is the name under which the Turrell Brothers, John & Tom, produce their atmospheric “nacht music”. Albums with titles such as Oneiros, Widdershins and Zerkalo give an idea of the spheres of interest. They also make short films, clips from which may be seen here.

• “Fascists don’t like satire. They don’t like it at all. And they especially don’t enjoy visual satire. Because of its unique power to communicate.” Ralph Steadman talking to Robert Chalmers about recent events.

There is an unexamined commonplace now floating around the social media, which has it that satire derogates its proper function when it stops targeting the powerful, and targets the relatively powerless instead. Theodor Adorno has also been cited here and there with his remarks on satire in the Minima Moralia of 1951, but few have noticed that the account he offers there stands in direct contradiction to the current received wisdom. For Adorno, satire is in its essence wistful and traditionalist. It looks back to something that has been lost, and dismisses the straight-facedness of everyone who attempts, against all evidence, to maintain the illusion that there is anything respect-worthy about the present state of things. It targets not just elected officials, but the yokels who elected them; not just the honcho who runs the saloon, but the sucker who hands over his last possessions at the poker table. There is a need for this: the yokels and the suckers need it most of all. There is redemption in it, and I confess to harboring whatever amount of traditionalism it takes to appreciate this redemptive quality.

Paris, 2015: a lengthy meditation by Justin EH Smith on the responses of left and right to the Charlie Hebdo killings

• “When the surface of the world is so overloaded with competing narratives…there is an understandable impulse to go underground.” Iain Sinclair on the excavation of London.

• More German music: Sinai Desert (1981) and Kailash, Pilgerfahrt Zum Thron Der Götter (no date), two films with music by Popol Vuh.

Kim Fowley: Sins & Secrets of the Silver Sixties. UglyThings Magazine makes available its definitive Fowley interview from 2001.

• More electronica and mix of the week: the FACT guide to the Yellow Magic Orchestra and associates.

• Vegetable-snake Undersea Beings: Allen Ginsberg writes to the Paris Review about LSD in 1966.

• The Edge Question for 2015: What do you think about machines that think?

Life of Cats: Selections from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Collection.

Lake Baikal frozen over

Serial Killer Barbie

NGC 891 (1974) by Edgar Froese | Overture (1974) by Tangerine Dream | PA 701 (1976) by Edgar Froese

 


Edgar Froese, 1944–2015

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“I was a big fan of Kraftwerk, Cluster and Harmonia, and I thought the first Neu! album, in particular, was just gigantically wonderful,” admits Bowie. “Looking at that against punk, I had absolutely no doubts where the future of music was going, and for me it was coming out of Germany at that time. I also liked some of the later Can things, and there was an album that I loved by Edgar Froese, Epsilon In Malaysian Pale; it’s the most beautiful, enchanting, poignant work, quite lovely. That used to be the background music to my life when I was living in Berlin.”

David Bowie, Mojo magazine, April 1997

Epsilon In Malaysian Pale was Froese’s second solo album released in September 1975. That month David Bowie was in Los Angeles recording his Station To Station album, the opening of which features phased train sounds that are strikingly similar to those that run through the first side of the Froese album. I’ve never seen this similarity mentioned by Bowie scholars but if there was an influence it’s a good example of the degree to which Tangerine Dream infiltrated the wider culture as much as Can and Neu! (Kraftwerk remain in a league of their own.)

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All you need is Zeit. Cover painting by Edgar Froese.

The influence of Tangerine Dream’s albums on the Ohr and Virgin labels is now so widespread that it’s difficult to compile a definitive list of those who’ve either paid homage or copied the group’s trademark style of extended sequencer runs and phased chords. Offhand I could mention the Ricochet-like tracks on Coil’s Musick To Play In The Dark Volumes 1 & 2; the many moments on the early Ghost Box albums, one of which samples from Alpha Centauri; and some of Julian Cope’s more out-there recordings from the late 1990s. There’s also all the releases by a group of loosely affiliated musicians dedicated to maintaining the 70s sound of Mellotrons and bouncing sequencers; many of these I’ve yet to hear but I’ve enjoyed the albums by Node and Redshift.

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Tangerine Dream have been a continual fixture in my music listening since I was a teenager; I drew most of The Call of Cthulhu to a soundtrack of Rubycon and Jon Hassell’s Aka/Darbari/Java album. I kept up with them after they departed from Virgin then jumped ship in 1986 after Johannes Schmoelling left the group. The albums continued to proliferate in recent years to an extent that even the Freeman brothers only follow the discography (with some exasperation) up to 1990 in their redoubtable Krautrock tome The Crack in the Cosmic Egg. Navigating a late career is a tricky business for a popular musician so you can’t blame Froese for carrying on the project. Those early recordings are the important ones, and he was a crucial component in their creation.

There’s a lot of Froese and TD on YouTube. If you like the early material these are some of the better moments:

Bath Tube Session, 1969: TD in psych-freakout mode. Klaus Schulze on drums, and lots of German heads looking bemused/bored.
Ossiach Lake, 1971: Playing outdoors for the TV cameras.
Paris, 1973: Footage of the group improvising in the manner of the Atem album.
Coventry Cathedral, 1975: Tony Palmer’s film of one of the cathedral concerts which caused them to be banned by the Pope from playing in churches. The original sound on this one is lost so the YT version has edits of the Ricochet album as the soundtrack.
London, 1976: Great film of the Ricochet period. Total synth porn.
Thief, 1981: The opening scene to Michael Mann’s thriller, and one of their best soundtrack moments. In The Wire this month John Carpenter enthuses about the TD score for Sorcerer but I’ve always felt Mann’s crime drama was a better match for their sound.
Warsaw, 1983: A Polish TV recording of the concert documented on the Poland (1984) album.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Synthesizing
Tangerine Dream in Poland

 


Kay Nielsen’s Grimm Fairy Tales

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Illustrated editions of the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales are so numerous it’s easy to overlook the better examples. Kay Nielsen’s edition isn’t only better than most, it’s an outstanding example of his meticulous approach to story illustration. Hansel and Gretel and Other Stories was published in 1925, and the beautiful colour plates really need to be seen at a larger size. You can view the rest of the book here or download it here.

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Penda's Fen by David Rudkin