Old book covers


The Art of Illuminating As Practised in Europe from the Earliest Times by WR Symms (1860).

From the days when blocking was an art. One of a number of lavish board designs which can be found at Fromoldbooks.org.

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The book covers archive

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Decorated Russian book covers
The Hetzel editions of Jules Verne

Third by Portishead


It’s not exactly news that Portishead‘s long-awaited third studio album is released today, its arrival having been telegraphed for months. I’ve been a fan since I heard the first theremin-inflected strains of Mysterons back in 1994 so I’d been looking forward to this. After a hiatus of ten years the burden of expectation grows very heavy so it’s never a good idea to expect too much. Well this album isn’t a disappointment by any means; some parts are surprisingly placid after the abrasiveness of their second opus, other parts such as the new single, Machine Gun, pull that abrasiveness in new directions.

Rather than add to the deluge of reviews I’ll note a personal delight which is the track We Carry On, a fantastic Silver Apples pastiche augmented by Adrian Utley’s growling guitar. Being an aficionado of the handful of late Sixties groups that could be classed as electronic, it’s fun seeing Portishead chalk up another reference to that era’s rudimentary synth music. Something in the air in 1968 saw the release of several significant albums that mixed electronic sounds into psychedelia: Cauldron by Fifty Foot Hose, the self-titled album by The United States of America and the first album by Silver Apples. Portishead already sounded very much like Fifty Foot Hose to begin with, if Fifty Foot Hose had been listening to John Barry instead of Edgard Varèse. On the second Portishead album they dedicated Half Day Closing to The United States of America so it’s not at all surprising for them to borrow some rhythms from Silver Apples; forty years on it’s as though they’ve collected the set.

Now get over to YouTube and watch them play We Carry On live; it fucking rocks!

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Light in the west