Weekend links 586

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Cover by Gordon Ertz for The Inland Printer, June 1916.

• “I worry that enthusiasm is being mistaken for a moral virtue, and negative criticism for a character flaw.” Dorian Lynskey on the dying art of the hatchet job. Also a reminder (not that we require it) that the word “fan” in this context has always been an abbreviation of “fanatic”.

• Culture.pl explores the work of Stanislaw Lem, the science-fiction writer “whose works, abilities and quirky sense of humor convinced Philip K. Dick that he was too brilliant to exist and must have actually been a committee of people”.

• The electronic music of Paul Schütze receives a reappraisal on Phantom Limb in November with a compilation album, The Second Law.

Aliya Whiteley on Amanita Muscaria, the hallucinogenic mushroom seen in hundreds of fairy-tale illustrations.

• Stuart Firestein talks to Roger Payne about changing the world’s attitude to whales by recording their songs.

• Jennifer Lucy Allan talks to Sam Underwood about his unique Acoustic Modular Synth.

Jóna G. Kolbrúnardóttir sings Odi Et Amo from Englabörn by Jóhann Jóhannsson.

• A forthcoming release on Dark Entries: Back Up: Mexican Tecno Pop 1980–1989.

• Luc Sante looks at Jim Jarmusch’s collages.

John Grant‘s favourite albums.

• RIP Michael Chapman.

• The Divination Of The Bowhead Whale (1978) by David Toop & Max Eastley | Keflavik: The Whale Dance (1980) by Richard Pinhas | Ballet For A Blue Whale (1983) by Adrian Belew

Gene Szafran album covers

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Sibelius: 4 Legends From “The Kalevala”, Op. 22 (1968); Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Lukas Foss.

Gene Szafran (1941–2011) was an American artist who painted illustrations for magazines and provided cover art for many science-fiction paperbacks throughout the 1970s. He shared with fellow paperback artist Bob Pepper a parallel career producing album cover art for Elektra Records and Elektra’s subsidiary for classical recordings and contemporary composition, Nonesuch, the latter contributing to William S. Harvey’s policy of making classical albums look as vibrant and contemporary as their neighbours in the rock sphere. Bob Pepper’s album covers, however, tend to resemble his book covers whereas Szafran’s book covers are simpler in style than his album art which fills out the larger space in a post-psychedelic style that’s often very detailed and done in a variety of media. It took me a while to realise that I’d known Szafran’s name for a long time via his cover for Pictures At An Exhibition by Tomita, the art for which isn’t a painting but a relief sculpture of the head of Tomita-san. A similar use of three-dimensional elements occurs on other album covers, and extends to a form of collage in which painted backgrounds are overlaid with physical objects, a technique which became a common sight in the 1980s but which wasn’t common at all in the 1960s. There might have been more work like this but Szafran’s career was cut short by multiple sclerosis in the late 1970s. Glimmer Graphics has several pages dedicated to his life and art.

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The Ages Of Rock (1968) by Cy Coleman.

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John Cage: Concerto For Prepared Piano & Orchestra / Lukas Foss: Baroque Variations (1968).

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The Nonesuch Guide To Electronic Music (1968) by Paul Beaver & Bernard L. Krause.

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The Moray Eels Eat The Holy Modal Rounders (1968) by The Holy Modal Rounders.

Continue reading “Gene Szafran album covers”

Weekend links 580

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The Collective Lie We All Live By, a cut-paper collage by Allan Kausch from Maintenant 15, A Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art.

• “It’s unusual that an album manages to be at once so much of its moment, yet so much outside it. Time was unmistakably a response to the electronic and synth waves that rose in the wake of punk. It was also a concept album about time travel, which couldn’t have been more pre-punk had it been focus-grouped that way.” David Bennun on Time (1981), ELO’s masterwork of science-fiction pop. The first song on the album, Twilight, is a thundering piece of synth bombast that prefigures Trevor Horn’s equally bombastic productions, and was used to memorable effect in the copyright-infringing animation made in 1983 for the opening of Daicon IV.

• New music: Disciples Of The Scorpion by The Rowan Amber Mill, and Shade by Grouper.

• “Psychedelic spirituality: Inside a growing Bay Area religious movement“.

• “It’s time to farewell this project,” says Ballardian.

• At Wormwoodiana: the seven greek vowels.

• A playlist for The Wire by Douglas Benford.

Norman Blake‘s favourite albums.

Astronomia Playing Cards.

• RIP Dusty Hill.

Time (1973) by David Bowie | Time (1976) by La Düsseldorf | Time (1992) by Lull

Weekend links 577

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Black Lake (1904) by Jan Preisler.

• Upcoming releases on the Ghost Box label will include a new album by {feuilleton} faves Pye Corner Audio, plus the surprising appearance of figures from Bruegel on a Ghost Box cover design.

Tilda Swinton and Olivier Saillard pay tribute to the films of Pier Paolo Pasolini. (Or to Pasolini’s costume designer, Danilo Donati.)

• New music: Spectral Corridor by The House In The Woods, and Re:Moving (Music for Choreographies by Yin Yue) by Machinefabriek.

• At Spoon & Tamago, Technopolis gets all the good things: “Giant kitty now greets commuters at Shinjuku Station.”

Anil Ananthaswamy on the ways in which psychedelics open a new window on the mechanisms of perception.

• Mixes of the week: Isolated Mix 112 by Suna, and GGHQ Mix #56, “An Unfortunate Kink”, by Abigail Ward.

• In this week’s impossible task, Alexis Petridis attempts to rank The Velvet Underground’s greatest songs.

• DJ Food unearths more flyers for London’s Middle Earth club, plus covers for the East Village Other.

• Global signals: Aki Onda on Holger Czukay and radio’s power to connect.

• At The Paris Review: Paintings and collages by Eileen Agar (1899–1991).

Will Sergeant’s favourite albums.

The Babel Tower Notice Board

Shaking Down The Tower Of Babel (1983) by Richard H. Kirk | Pärt: An Den Wassern Zu Babel (1991) by Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir conducted by Paul Hillier | The Black Meat (Deconstruction Of The Babel-Tower of Reason) (1994) by Automaton

Weekend links 573

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The Greendale Oak, Welbeck, Nottinghamshire, from Joseph George Strutt’s Sylva Britannica (1822/1830).

• “…a single page from Max Ernst’s collage novel Une semaine de bonté (A Week of Kindness, 1934) uncovers the weird brooding threat in Tenniel’s image of Alice in the railway carriage.” Mark Sinker reviewing the Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. I don’t know what Ernst page Sinker is referring to but I made the connection between an Ernst collage and Tenniel’s drawing here in 2010.

• At Wormwoodiana: “Calum Storrie’s 36 Elevations is a book of drawings of imaginary architecture, with the emphasis on towers, stairs, ladders, globes, oblique angles, gantries, finials etc.”

• At The Quietus: Jennifer Lucy Allen on The Strange World of…Don Cherry, and Dustin Krcatovich on Don and Moki Cherry’s Organic Music Theatre.

Call it the new orthodoxy of the digital middlebrow, “the rise of safely empowering stories with likeable protagonists who move through short sentence after short sentence towards uplifting conclusions in which virtue is rewarded.” The laudable goal of increasing the diversity of literary voices has somehow morphed into a series of purity tests designed to ensure that any artistic representation ticks the same boxes as its ostensible author. “On this,” Tyree writes, “conservative religious evangelicals secretly agree with their puritanical secularist enemies on a censorious attitude and checklist approach to art as either ‘acceptable’ or ‘offensive’ to whatever program one happens to prefer for cleansing all vileness from the world.” The result?

[A]rt is increasingly viewed by both the right and the left as a sub-branch of medicine, therapy, hygiene, or good manners. Art is no longer that which tells us the truth but rather that which makes us feel better—a deflated ideology that is spawning a sort of unofficial school of palatability.

And this, I fear, is what’s afflicting many of my students…

Justin St. Clair reviewing The Counterforce: Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice by JM Tyree. Since I’m currently in the midst of a Pynchon reading binge this is all very timely

• “Researchers create self-sustaining, intelligent, electronic microsystems from green material“.

• From 2018: Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Toop live at The Silver Building.

• New weirdness: Catwalk Of The Phantom Baroque by Moon Wiring Club.

• Mix of the week:Episode #391 of Curved Radio by radioShirley & mr.K.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Illegible autographs.

Elevation (1974) by Pharoah Sanders | Elevation II (1997) by Vainqueur | Elevations And Depths (2010) by Locrian