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


 

Weekend links 489

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Typhonic Neural Tantra by The Wyrding Module.

• November 2019, as many people have been noting, is the month in which Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner takes place. At Dangerous Minds Paul Gallagher writes about the unrelated William Burroughs script whose title was borrowed for Scott’s film.

• More Ridley Scott (sort of): disco was still a big thing when Alien was in the cinemas 40 years ago, so Kenny Denton reworked Jerry Goldsmith’s Alien score into a disco single which he released under the name Nostromo.

• “The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the most exciting novels ever written and on the other hand is one of the most badly written novels of all time and in any literature.” Umberto Eco on the cult of the imperfect.

• Jonathan Glazer has made a short film, The Fall, for the BBC but the corporation’s restrictions mean that (for the moment) it’s difficult to see if you live outside the UK.

• New albums at Bandcamp: Typhonic Neural Tantra by The Wyrding Module, and Emotional Freedom Techniques by Jon Brooks (aka The Advisory Circle).

• Hawkwind dancer Miss Stacia and the Barney Bubbles estate have made a line of T-shirts based on Barney Bubbles’ Space Ritual design.

Walter Murch and Midge Costin on the art of cinematic sound design.

Ivana Sekularac on the former Yugoslavia’s brutalist beauty.

• Congratulations to Strange Flowers on its 10th anniversary.

Geoff Manaugh on the witch houses of the Hudson Valley.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: 19 experimental horror films.

Fall (1968) by Miles Davis | The Fall (2011) by The Haxan Cloak | Fall (2014) by The Bug (feat. Copeland)

 


Peter Strickland’s Stone Tape

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My annual Halloween post breaks with its usual music mix/playlist format this year for a recording of The Stone Tape, Peter Strickland’s hour-long radio drama made for Halloween in 2015. This was an adaptation, co-written with Matthew Graham, of Nigel Kneale’s celebrated TV play of the same name, first broadcast in 1972 for the BBC’s Christmas ghost-story slot then unavailable for many years. The combination of Kneale’s name and the impossibility of easily seeing the play gave The Stone Tape a reputation somewhat greater than it might otherwise have warranted. The drama has a number of shortcomings by contemporary standards: the whole thing is shot on video, so it compares unfavourably to the ghost films the BBC were making throughout the 1970s, and the acting is also quite histrionic in places. On the plus side there’s a woman scientist as the central character (an excellent performance by Jane Asher), and another of Kneale’s examinations of a horror staple—the haunted house, in this case—which adeptly twists your expectations while combining science and the supernatural in equal measure.

Strickland’s adaptation uses the same scenario—struggling electronics company moves into a house with a haunted reputation—but with the events moved slightly forward to 1979. The director’s fondness for electronic music shifts the emphasis of the story to the capabilities of electronic sound, both its destructive potential and its use as a diagnostic tool. James Cargill, formerly of Broadcast, now in Children Of Alice, was the soundtrack composer on Strickland’s second feature film, Berberian Sound Studio, and here creates the music and electronic sounds. The radio play is closer to Berberian Sound Studio than anything else Strickland has done to date, and could even be regarded as a companion piece with its recording equipment and repeated screams. (Eugenia Caruso provides screams for both.) As with the film, two thirds into the drama the narrative becomes much more diffuse and fragmented; the recording medium itself is foregrounded for a lengthy sequence that works like an audio equivalent of found-footage horror films. The hazard of this is that the layered nature of Kneale’s horrors may not be so apparent if you’ve not seen the TV version (I can’t say) but the sound design is excellent throughout, and benefits from the use of headphones to appreciate its subtleties. There’s also some sly reference to Alvin Lucier if you’re familiar with his compositions. Jane Asher makes a cameo appearance as the mother of the character she portrayed in the TV version.

The Stone Tape may be listened to or downloaded here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Nigel Kneale’s Woman in Black
Stone Tapes and Quatermasses
Nigel Kneale’s Nineteen Eighty-Four
The Stone Tape

 


Weekend links 488

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Poster by Zdenek Ziegler for Markéta Lazarová (1966), a film by Frantisek Vlácil.

• I’ve spent the past couple of weeks watching a number of films by Béla Tarr, including his 432-minute masterwork, Sátántangó (1994). The latter was based on a novel by László Krasznahorkai, an author who not only worked with Tarr on the screenplay but helped with several of his other features. So this piece by David Schurman Wallace, about a more recent Krasznahorkai novel, Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming, arrives at just the right moment.

The Paris Review unlocked its Art of Fiction interview with Italo Calvino. William Weaver and Daniel Pettigrew ask the questions. And at the same site: Ivan Brunetti on the deceptive simplicity of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts.

• Halloween approaches so Sudip Bose suggests 10 pieces of orchestral music to set the mood. I made a similar list of my own in 2011. Related: Adam Scovell on 10 lesser-known folk horror films.

I thought, “When I grow up, I’m going to be in a group making this kind of music.” Slowly and Shirley, I did grow up and found myself in a group but they weren’t making that kind of music. It was a hole of longing in my guts that I needed to fix.

Andy Partridge, aka Sir John Johns, on his love of psychedelic music and the remixed reissue of the Dukes Of Stratosphear catalogue

Faye Lessler on how the Internet Archive is digitizing LPs to preserve generations of audio.

• Photographing the Dark: Allison C. Meier on Nadar’s descent into the Paris Catacombs.

• At Wormwoodiana: Go Back at Once, Robert Aickman‘s unpublished second novel.

• Queen of the Flies: Mica Levi talks to Charlie Bridgen about her soundtrack music.

• At Dangerous Minds: Sex, Nazis, and classical music: Ken Russell’s Lisztomania.

• The first new Ghost Box recording artist of 2020 will be…Paul Weller.

• Mix of the week: There’s No Going Back by The Ephemeral Man.

• The Dead Travel Fast: The Gothic Ballad of Lenore in paint.

Catacombs/Cum Mortuis In Lingua Mortua (1980) by Mussorgsky (George Solti/Chicago SO) | Fade In Hong Kong (1981) by Video Liszt | La Ballade De Lenore (1986) by Shub-Niggurath

 


Of Mice and Minestrone

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I’ve done a lot of cover work this year, and there are still more designs waiting to be announced. Of Mice and Minestrone isn’t my usual line of work but it’s actually the third cover I’ve done for a Joe R. Lansdale book, although the previous titles were horror and steampunk respectively. The latest volume is a collection of crime stories, and an addition to Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard books, a series about a pair of Texan detectives whose popularity now extends to a TV show.

Crime presents many of the same challenges you find in other genres, all of which come with their own set of clichés which you can either choose to engage with or avoid. In the case of crime there’s a tendency for degraded typefaces to proliferate, along with variations on a red/black/white colour scheme. One of the early drafts of this design did use a red/black/white arrangement but I was told that Joe Lansdale was (unsurprisingly) tired of seeing this scheme applied to his own books. The title of the collection comes from the opening story which concerns the young Hap’s involvement with an older woman and her abusive husband; the marital abuse is resolved via a bowl of soup which has been poisoned with a dead rat, hence the title and the cover image. I like using pareidolia when I can, and the slightly unusual imagery pushed the appearance away from generic clichés (if you discount the bullets) towards the marvellously surreal covers that Tom Adams painted for Agatha Christie’s novels.

The background photo is a rare example of my using a stock image. The soup bowl looked fine from the outset but the background lacked a suitably ominous quality, and was at risk of looking too much like a recipe book. (As it happens there are some recipes by Kasey Lansdale following the fiction although I don’t think any require the use of dead rats.) After trying a number of different table surfaces I decided on a lateral approach so went searching for pictures of Texan storm clouds. The image we eventually used—a tornado over farmland near Patricia, Texas by John Finney at Getty Images—was the second one I tried and it worked so well we decided to keep it.

Of Mice and Minestrone will be published by Tachyon in March 2020 but is available for pre-order now.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Gods of HP Lovecraft
Lovecraft’s Monsters
Ten titles and a cover
Steampunk overloaded!
New things for April

 


Weekend links 487

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Art by Joe Mugnaini (1955).

• Mixes of the week: The Ivy-Strangled Path Vol. XIX by David Colohan, and The Ephemeral Man’s Teapot 2—Atmosphere insomniac by The Ephemeral Man.

• Patrick Clarke talks to Morton Subotnick and Lillevan about Subotnick’s pioneering synthesizer composition, Silver Apples Of The Moon (1967).

• A second volume of London’s Lost Rivers, a walker’s guide by Tom Bolton with photography by SF Said, is published by Strange Attractor next month.

“That country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.”

Ray Bradbury quoted by Sam Weller in an examination of Bradbury’s dark tales and autumnal horror stories

Lumberjacks In Heat is 11 minutes of music from Mechanical Fantasy Box by Patrick Cowley, the latest Cowley collection from Dark Entries.

They Poured Out Their Light Until Only Darkness Remained: new eldritch vibrations from The Wyrding Module.

• Carmen Villain on the magic of Jon Hassell’s Aka / Darbari / Java: Magic Realism.

• An Evil Medium: Elizabeth Horkley on the films of Kenneth Anger.

• Cosmic gardens and boulder boulevards by Charles Jencks.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Murray Melvin Day.

Richard Dawson‘s favourite music.

• RIP John Giorno.

My Girlfriend Is A Witch (1968) by October Country | The October Man (1982) by Bill Nelson | Late October (1984) by Harold Budd

 


 



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Penda's Fen by David Rudkin