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


 

An Optical Poem by Oskar Fischinger

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Oskar Fischinger’s only successful collaboration with a Hollywood studio was this 7-minute animation made for MGM in 1937. As with some of Fischinger’s earlier films, a piece of classical music is illustrated with dancing shapes of cut-out paper. The music in this instance is Liszt’s Second Hungarian Rhapsody, and this short was one of the films that brought Fischinger’s to Walt Disney’s attention when the Disney studio was planning a similarly abstract sequence for Fantasia. Fischinger worked on the Toccata and Fugue opening but his early efforts for Disney were dismissed as “too dinky” by the man responsible for a ubiquitous anthropomorphic mouse.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Moon 69, a film by Scott Bartlett
Us Down By The Riverside, a film by Jud Yalkut
Turn, Turn, Turn, a film by Jud Yalkut
Mothlight, a film by Stan Brakhage
Walter Ruttmann’s abstract cinema
7362, a film by Pat O’Neill
Here and There, a film by Andrzej Pawlowski
Power Spot by Michael Scroggins
Kusama’s Self-Obliteration, a film by Jud Yalkut
OffOn by Scott Bartlett
The Flow III
Chris Parks
Len Lye
Matrix III by John Whitney
Symphonie Diagonale by Viking Eggeling
Mary Ellen Bute: Films 1934–1957
Norman McLaren
John Whitney’s Catalog
Arabesque by John Whitney
Moonlight in Glory
Jordan Belson on DVD
Ten films by Oskar Fischinger
Lapis by James Whitney

 


Can esoterics

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As usual, one thing leads to another. Most people who listen to Tago Mago (1971), the third album by Can, won’t be aware of the Aleister Crowley reference in the long improvisation that fills side three (track 5 on the CD). Aumgn was a spontaneous creation that includes one member of the band intoning an OM-like mantra while the other musicians clatter their way around the studio. The Crowley connection is in the unusual spelling of the title which is Crowley’s own amendment of the more familiar AUM. He explains the reasoning over several pages in Magick in Theory and Practice (1929), some of which involves the numeral values of the five letters. Not that this marks Can as Crowleyans but anyone unacquainted with Crowley’s augmented word would simply have used OM or AUM instead.

Update: I’ve been re-reading the book that came with the Can Box (1999), and came across this passage I’d forgotten about in Michael Karoli’s interview:

At the time I was very interested in magic spells, and Irmin knew of the spell “Aumgn” through me. But I had a completely different concept of what one could do with it, than to irreverently quote it in a piece of music. At the age of 21, I wouldn’t have dared to put this recklessly on an album. For me it was black magic. It was Aleister Crowley and all of that, and it gave me the creeps. I told Irmin to stop pronouncing magic spells in the room, but Irmin naturally overrode that with his arrogant grin.

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Design by Ingo Trauer & Richard J. Rudow.

The fifth studio album, Future Days (1973) has another esoteric detail on the front and back of its elegant Art Nouveau sleeve: Hexagram 50 from the I Ching, translated in the Richard Wilhelm edition as Ting / The Cauldron. The same text has the judgement for Ting as “great good success”, and the album happens to be considered one of their best musically, although it was also the end of an era when vocalist Damo Suzuki left after its release. On a more mundane level, a cauldron is a container, as is a can.

There’s also the unexplained Greek letter in the centre of the sleeve: Psi is the 23rd letter of the Greek alphabet, and is commonly used as a symbol for psychology although it’s also used as a symbol in quantum mechanics. This last reference might be relevant given that the piece that ends their next album, Soon Over Babaluma (1974), is entitled Quantum Physics.

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Design by Wagner Design Unit. Cover photos by Michael Karoli & Peter Hehner.

There are more I Ching hexagrams on the back of Flow Motion (1976), the group’s eighth album. Hexagram 29 is K’an / The Abysmal (Water) also known as “gorge” or “abyss”. Hexagram 59 is Huan / Dispersal (Dissolution). Taken together these could be interpreted as “flow motion” (and may well be the origin of the title—interviews with the group have seldom discussed these things) although they might also be seen as ominous signs for Can’s future. Flow Motion gave them a hit single in the UK (I Want More) but it’s also the last album that’s musically satisfying throughout. Can persevered for another two years (minus Holger Czukay) before disbanding in 1978. As to the esoterics, Rob Young is apparently writing a biography of the band so we may learn more about all of this when his book is published.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Can soundtracks
Can’s Lost Tapes

 


Aleister Crowley: Wandering The Waste revisited

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Martin Hayes was in touch this week with news of a reprint of his commendable comic-book biography of Aleister Crowley. Martin was the writer of Aleister Crowley: Wandering The Waste, and RH Stewart the artist. The first edition, which I reviewed in 2013, was a paperback whereas the new volume from Markosia will be a hardback with revised text and some new content:

Aleister Crowley: Wandering the Waste, the critically-acclaimed graphic novel by Martin Hayes, Roy Huteson Stewart, and Paul McLaren is re-launching at LSCC 2016. A meticulously researched exploration of the life of Aleister Crowley, with a foreword by renowned Crowley scholar Richard Kaczynski. This new edition has been revised and completely redesigned with a new cover and additional bonus content—fully annotated and complete with bibliography and rarities.

Aleister Crowley: Wandering the Waste is published by Markosia and will launch at London Super Comic Con in the Excel Centre on Saturday 20th of February, 2016.

Written by Martin Hayes, whose previous projects include the graphic novels Project Luna: 1947 and Abominable Glory, along with several serials for Aces Weekly. With art by Roy Huteson Stewart, who has illustrated for Vincent Price Presents and FutureQuake. Lettered by Paul McLaren. Aleister Crowley: Wandering the Waste is a meticulously researched, intricately illustrated autopsy on the life of the Great Beast. 140 pages.

Martin and Roy will be signing at the Markosia booth from 2–3pm on the Saturday of LSCC. Martin will be there from 11–12 on the Sunday.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Konx om Pax
Aleister Crowley: Wandering The Waste
Brush of Baphomet by Kenneth Anger
Rex Ingram’s The Magician
The Mysteries of Myra
Aleister Crowley on vinyl

 


Bosch details

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In which the indelible strangeness of Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights (c. 1490–1510), is presented to us in the highest resolution. (I should say presented again since Google’s Art Project/Cultural Institute/whatever-it’s-called-this-week had a browsable version of their own in 2009 but this seems to have vanished. So much for the primacy of the Googleverse, etc, etc.) I’d always encourage people to see paintings in situ when possible but it remains a fact that very old and well-known works of art are difficult to study for any length of time in a crowded gallery. The more valuable works are also closely guarded by attendants who dissuade anyone from getting too close to those fragile surfaces, so it’s left to books or websites such as this one to give us the details. Not all paintings warrant this kind of attention, of course, but the crowded panels of Bosch and Brueghel the Elder certainly do. In addition to wandering among the figures you can also opt for a guided tour although bear in mind that the meaning (if any) of many of these details has never been resolved. Via MetaFilter.

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Can soundtracks

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Trailer for Deep End (1970). Music: Mother Sky.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Can over the past week, and thinking—not for the first time—about their erratic soundtrack career. Their soundtrack music is very familiar from their second album, Soundtracks, and the recent Lost Tapes collection which unearthed a few pieces that were previously only available in films or TV episodes. Much less familiar is the films and TV episodes themselves so here’s a look at some of the available material. Deep End and Alice in the Cities are both acclaimed (and highly recommended) feature films available on DVD. Everything else in this collection has been less visible outside Germany.

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Trailer for Mädchen mit Gewalt (1970). Music: Soul Desert and Desert.

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Trailer for Deadlock (1970). Music: Deadlock and Tango Whiskeyman.

Another of the strange Westerns (or Western-like films) that flourished in the early 70s.

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Lovecraftiana Calendar 2016

    Lovecratiana Calendar 2016

 


 

Coulthart Books

    The Haunter of the Dark
    Reverbstorm

 


 

Previously on { feuilleton }

    thursday.jpg   passage12.jpg

 


 

{ feuilleton } recommends


In A Moment... Ghost Box

 

The Miraculous by Anna Von Hausswolff

 

Far West by Master Musicians of Bukkake

 

Primitive And Deadly by Earth

 

The Shadow Over Atlantis by The Wounded Kings

 

Muscle Up by Patrick Cowley

 

Psychedelia and Other Colours by Rob Chapman

 

The Art of Gothic by Natasha Scharf

 

Somnium by Steve Moore

 

Strange Attractor Journal Four

 

Clive Hicks-Jenkins

 

A Humument by Tom Phillips

 

Hard To Be A God

 

The Duke of Burgundy

 

Under the Skin

 

A Field In England

 

Metropolis

 

Nosferatu

 

Enter the Void

 

The Prisoner--Complete Series

 

Berlin Alexanderplatz

 

The Erotic Films of Peter de Rome

 

L'Ange by Patrick Bokanowski

 

Piotr Kamler--A La Recherche du Temps

 


 




 

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Penda's Fen by David Rudkin