{ feuilleton }


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


Weekend links 238


We Are The Water – Snow Drawings Project, Colorado (2014) by Sonja Hinrichsen with 50 volunteers.

• I don’t do end-of-year lists but Dennis Cooper does. My thanks to Dennis once more for including this blog among his selections. Also there is Jonathan Glazer’s film of Under the Skin, an adaptation of Michel Faber’s novel that impressed me as the most insidiously disturbing thing I’ve seen since Mulholland Drive. The Guardian‘s film critics agreed, making it their film of the year. I’d add to Peter Bradshaw’s appraisal by noting the superb score by Mica Levi, the refusal to spoon-feed the audience with explanations, and a refreshing absence of Hollywood gloss. Glazer’s film, like Kill List before it, shows that mundane British streets and interiors can still be a setting for serious horror.

• Related to the above: “I like Caravan, Coil—it’s very sad that they’re both dead now. In fact, Peter Christopherson, who was leader of Coil, contributed a song to a CD which I made for my wife for what we believed would be her last birthday.” Michel Faber talks to Hope Whitmore about Under the Skin and his new novel, The Book of Strange New Things. M. John Harrison recommends the latter on his own end-of-year list. In January Black Mass Rising will release a recording of The Art of Mirrors, Peter Christopherson’s homage to Derek Jarman from 2004.

David Bowie and band live on Musikladen in 1978: 40 minutes with Adrian Belew on squealing lead guitar, some Kurt Weill and an outstanding performance of “Heroes”.

• “Realism is a literary convention – no more, no less – and is therefore as laden with artifice as any other literary convention.” Tom McCarthy on realism and the real.

• Mixes of the week: The Best of the Best of the Best by TheCuriosityPipe, and Secret Thirteen Mix 138, a medley of post punk from Psyche.

• “We spent two weeks making the penises.” Livin’ Thing: An Oral History of Boogie Nights by Alex French and Howie Kahn.

• At Dangerous Minds: Seeing The Man Who Fell to Earth was one of the greatest experiences of Philip K. Dick’s life.

• Giving Voice to Our Pagan Past and Present: Pam Grossman on Witches, Women and Pop Occulture.

• Neglected last week (and linked everywhere but still a good one): The typography of Alien.

William Mortensen, the photographer who Ansel Adams called the Anti-Christ.

• Hear a track from analogue synthesizer virtuoso Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith.

Rick Poynor on illustrations by Bohumil Stepan for Crazy Fairy Tales.

12 excellent features from directors who never made another feature.

Werner Herzog Inspirationals

The Devil in the Hedgerow

New Warm Skin (1980) by Simple Minds | Rapture Of The Skin (1996) by Paul Schütze | Take Me Into Your Skin (2007) by Trentemøller


Max Ernst album covers


The Road To Ruin (1970) by John & Beverley Martyn. Art: Un Semaine de Bonté (1934).

Having already looked at cover art featuring the work of Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, a similar post for Max Ernst seemed inevitable. I did search for Ernst cover art after the Dalí post but at the time there were fewer examples. As usual there may be more than these since Discogs is the main search tool and they (or the albums) don’t always credit the artists. Despite having several books of Ernst’s work I’ve not been able to identify all the artwork so the Ernst-heads out there are welcome to fill in the gaps.

The Road To Ruin was John Martyn’s fourth album, and the second he recorded with wife Beverley. I’m surprised that this is the earliest example, I’d have expected a classical album or two to have predated it.


Martinu’s Symphony No. 6 (Fantaisies Symphoniques) / Vorisek’s Symphony In D Major (1971); New Philharmonia Orchestra, Michael Bialoguski. Art: Bottled Moon (1955).


Bluebeard’s Castle by Béla Bartók (1976); Tatiana Troyanos, Siegmund Nimsgern, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Boulez. Art: The Eye of Silence (1943–44).

Bluebeard’s Castle is my favourite opera, and The Eye of Silence is my favourite Ernst painting, so this is a dream conjunction even if the match doesn’t work as well as it did for the cover of The Crystal World by JG Ballard. One to seek out.

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Enki by Melechesh


Another album cover, and this time the artwork is my own, being my third cover for metal band Melechesh. The album won’t be released until February but the record label, Nuclear Blast, revealed the cover earlier this week so I thought I may as well post it myself. See a larger copy here. Note that other copies in circulation at the moment show a temporary title design (not my doing) which will probably be changed by release time.

This is my third cover for the band whose songs are preoccupied with Sumerian mythology, as should be evident from the symbolism. The artwork was also one of two elaborate (unconnected) designs I’d been working on over the autumn. The other one may be revealed next week so watch this space.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The album covers archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Epigenesis by Melechesh


Bomb culture


The Atomic Mr Basie (1957) by the Count Basie Orchestra.

A few more examples and this would have been part of the ongoing Design as virus thread. A recent post at MetaFilter led to this piece about the use and misuse of photos of nuclear tests. The Count Basie album above appears there, a cover I’d not seen before. This isn’t the same cover as in the post since there were several variations of this album entitled either Basie or The Atomic Mr Basie.


Hood, 11:40.00.4 5 July 1957.

The photo on the cover was of “Hood”, one of the detonations from Operation Plumbbob, a series of tests that took place in the Nevada Desert during the summer of 1957.


Crown of Creation (1968) by Jefferson Airplane. Design: John Van Hamersveld.

The Basie cover reminded me immediately of a similar cover for Jefferson Airplane’s Crown of Creation album a decade later. No doubt both albums chose shots of explosions against dark skies since they look a lot more fiery and dramatic than those photographed in the desert daylight. I’ve often wondered if this cover—which runs counter to the peace & love vibes of the late 60s—gave Norman Spinrad the idea for his story The Big Flash published a year later. Spinrad’s story is a twist on the usual scenario of Jesus or Satan appearing in contemporary guise: “The Four Horsemen” are a rock band who are also the actual Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Their popularity leads the world willingly to nuclear destruction.


Fizeau, 16:45 14 September 1957.

The first surprise was that this isn’t a night shot. The second surprise was discovering that “Fizeau” was also a part of Operation Plumbbob. This page has more details of the complete operation in all its cancer-inducing glory.


Dynamite (1974) by Various Artists. Artwork by Phil Richards.

There may be other albums using the Plumbbob photos but the only other example that came to mind was a painted cover which is vaguely reminiscent of the pictures above. I wouldn’t have known this one at all if I hadn’t received it as a Christmas present in December 1974. Of all the cheap compilation albums I used to play on my first record player this was easily the best one, an odd mix of glam, forgettable pop and the heavy rock that in those days made it into the charts on a regular basis. “As advertised on TV.” The Cozy Powell number, Dance With The Devil, was a drum-led instrumental based on Jimi Hendrix’s Third Stone From The Sun. It still sounds good today.


The Age of Quarrel (1986) by Cro-Mags.

An album by a hardcore band that uses a shot of the Romeo test from Operation Castle, 1954. Thanks to @NONPOPOCCULTURE.

Update: Added Cro-Mags.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The album covers archive


New blade


The Men with swords thread has been rather moribund of late but I did manage to make at post at the beginning of the year. This new addition, a suggestion by Clive (thanks, Clive!), was irresistible so it can help see the year out. Don’t ask why there’s a katana on the bed, I doubt we’ll ever know. I did try to find the source of the photo; Google Images traces it back to a Tumblr that’s now deleted so the identities of photographer and model remain a mystery.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The men with swords archive







“feed your head”


Below the fold


Penda's Fen by David Rudkin