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


 

The Song of the Dead by Carrie Patel

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Presenting my latest cover for Angry Robot books, and the third cover I’ve done for Carrie Patel. The Song of the Dead is a sequel to Carrie’s two previous novels in the Recoletta series, The Buried Life and Cities and Thrones. For the new volume I maintained continuity by keeping the architectural frame while changing some of the details; the use of green after doing the previous covers in blue and red means that this is now the second series I’ve done for Angry Robot (KW Jeter’s being the first) using a red/green/blue colour scheme. This wasn’t intentional but was the result of choosing colours that differ from each other as much as possible. (Or almost as much: red, blue and yellow are primary colours, green is a secondary colour.) The requirement for the pictorial content was to show a city of disparate architecture but with less of an antique style than that seen on The Buried Life. Almost all the buildings in my palimpsest creation are taken from renderings of unbuilt skyscrapers or views from the early 20th century showing New York “as it will be in the future”. The airship is my own invention, based on the French model of dirigible which favoured pointed ends. The Song of the Dead will be published at the beginning of May.

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And while I’m writing about recent work, it’s worth mentioning that The Thing: Artbook is now available for pre-order from Printed In Blood. This is a 400-page tribute to John Carpenter’s horror masterwork laden with responses and interpretations of Thingery from a wide range of international artists, myself included. The book will be out in July, and copies pre-ordered from the publisher will come with two bonus prints. More about this later.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Things
Two covers

 


Weekend links 350

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Transition H50 (2016) by Jessica Eaton.

• One of my weekend posts in 2012 contained details about Taking Tiger Mountain, a low-budget feature film put together in 1983 by Tom Huckabee using footage originally shot in Tangier and Wales in the 1970s. Huckabee’s film is a strange “experimental” work of science fiction, based in part on William Burroughs’ Blade Runner script (no relation to the Ridley Scott film apart from the title), and described here as “a psychotropic apocalyptic odyssey”. The most notable aspect of the film for many will be the presence of a young Bill Paxton in the lead role, something I was reminded of when Paxton’s death was announced earlier this week. Five years ago there was only a short clip of Taking Tiger Mountain available on YouTube but since then a full copy has appeared; watch it here while you can. (The widescreen frame is cropped, and the sound is all in one channel but it’s still watchable.) Tom Huckabee talked about the film’s production (and the Burroughs connections) to Beatdom. A curio that deserves wider attention.

• “With Biller, the references come thick and fast. In The Love Witch, she channels, among others, 50s Hitchcock, Douglas Sirk’s lurid lushness, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s deadpan gaze, Nicholas Ray’s poetry, Sam Fuller’s tabloid style and Todd Haynes’s revisionist sexual politics. [...] Then add the Technicolor, widescreen, haute-Hollywood “women’s pictures” of the 50s, a touch of Hammer Studios, The Wicker Man, Rosemary’s Baby and any number of studio melodramas and musicals.” John Patterson talks to director Anna Biller about her new film, The Love Witch.

• Mix of the week is the Anxious Heart Mix by Moon Wiring Club, another excellent blend of electronica, industria and dialogue samples from the outer limits of the televisual sphere. Also of note this week: VF Mix 83, an Adrian Sherwood selection by Pinch, XLR8R Podcast 479 by Chris SSG, and Secret Thirteen Mix 213 by -N.

• “Anthropologically, this was going on all around me: it was amazing and nobody was dealing with it like that, so I just went for it.” Hal Fischer on his photo-art series, Gay Semiotics, which is on display at Project Native Informant, London, until 1st April.

• Coming in May from Luaka Bop, World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda, the first-ever compilation of Alice Coltrane’s scarce releases on the Avatar Book Institute label.

Cinephilia looks back at Robert Wise and Nelson Gidding’s film of The Andromeda Strain (1971).

• Psychedelic Speed Freak: Remembering the blistering experimentalism of Hideo Ikeezumi.

• More witchery: S. Elizabeth talks to Pam Grossman about art, film and hex power.

• At The Quietus: Harry Sword on the strange world of Surgeon.

Leonor Fini playing cards

The Feathered Tiger (1969) by Kaleidoscope | Taking Tiger Mountain (1974) by Brian Eno | Plain Tiger (1985) by Cocteau Twins

 


The Marks Upon The Land

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The latest release from A Year In The Country, The Marks Upon The Land, sees the label pushing its roots into a new medium with a 60-page book collecting the monochrome imagery featured on the label’s website and CD packaging. That imagery—described on the website as “explorations of an otherly pastoralism, a wandering amongst subculture that draws from the undergrowth of the land – the patterns beneath the plough, pylons and amongst the edgelands”—converts the bucolically familiar into something more eerie or even sinister, a series of widescreen mutations that create pareidolia spectres through symmetry and layering. Seen in isolation, these images are arresting enough but they gain power by being collected together, fashioning a statement of intent.

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Statement or not, it can be difficult to sell people semi-abstract imagery so it’s probably wise that The Marks Upon The Land comes with a musical accompaniment in the form of two 4-track CDs—Wild Hope Flowers by David Colohan and Richard Moult, and The Dark Chamber EP by A Year In The Country—and a 12-track cassette, Airwaves: Songs From The Sentinels by A Year In The Country (the book will also be available on its own). The Dark Chamber is described as an audio exploration of the imagery in the book although I found that Airwaves: Songs From The Sentinels was just as fitting, if not more so, since the pieces are fluid soundscapes with a sinister edge. The Dark Chamber is a series of electronic instrumentals, one of which, The Dark Chamber, is an uptempo piece of a kind more usually associated with city streets (bleating sheep and a distant rookery notify us that we’re still in the country). After appearing separately on previous A Year In The Country releases, David Colohan and Richard Moult provide a contrast to the electronic processing with four short piano-led songs, a reminder that the folk spirit still lurks in the hedgerows (what’s left of them).

The Marks Upon The Land will be released on 6th March, 2017. Order details and previews may be found here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Forest / The Wald
The Quietened Bunker
Fractures

 


Weekend links 349

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• Before Stanley Kubrick fixed an image of Alex and his droogs in the popular imagination, artists could get away with playing on the threat of biker gangs as Wilson McLean does in this vaguely psychedelic cover from 1969. (McLean’s interpretation may possibly derive from a 1965 edition.) LibraryThing has a collection of Clockwork Orange covers from around the world which run the gamut of cogs, orange hues and variations on David Pelham’s famous Penguin design from 1972. Meanwhile, AL Kennedy celebrates 100 years of Anthony Burgess by examining the writer’s career as a whole, although the web feature still manages to get a photo of Malcolm McDowell in there.

• “Even bad books can change lives,” says Phil Baker reviewing The Outsider by Colin Wilson and Beyond the Robot, a Wilson biography by Gary Lachman. I wouldn’t call The Outsider a bad book but Wilson’s more wayward opinions (and later works) are best treated with scepticism.

• “Murtaugh refers to his subject’s ‘pervasive sense of doom’ and Welch himself speaks of ‘the extraordinary sadness of everything.’” David Pratt reviewing Good Night, Beloved Comrade: The Letters of Denton Welch to Eric Oliver, edited by Daniel J. Murtaugh.

• At The Quietus this week: Tinariwen bassist Eyadou Ag Leche is interviewed by Richie Troughton, Jane Weaver unveils a new song from her forthcoming album, Modern Kosmology, and Danny Riley explores the strange world of Ben Chasny.

• “A micro-history of cultural gatekeeping: once told by the censors what we may read, then by critics what we should, we are now told merely what we can read.” Ben Roth writing against the use of “readability” as a literary value.

• Yayoi Kusama’s amazing infinity rooms are at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, until May. For the rest of us, Peter Murphy’s panoramic photo is still online.

• More music: my friends Watch Repair have become visible enough to be interviewed by an Argentinian website. The group’s Bandcamp page recently made three new releases available.

• Yet more music: They Walk Among Us, a new song and video by Barry Adamson, and Anymore, a new song and video by Goldfrapp.

• Earth and The Bug announce Concrete Desert, a collaborative album inspired by Los Angeles and the fiction of JG Ballard.

• Bad Books for Bad People: Episode 7: The Incal – Epic French Space-Opera Comics.

• Mixes of the week: FACT Mix 589 by Aisha Devi, and Secret Thirteen Mix 212 by Qual.

Eduardo Paolozzi‘s forays into fashion and furnishings.

Cooking with Vincent [Price]

Moroccan Tape Stash

• Tin Toy Clockwork Train (1986) by The Dukes Of Stratosphear | Clock (1995) by Node | Clockwork Horoscope (2009) by Belbury Poly

 


Fritz Eichenberg’s illustrated Poe

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The Murders in the Rue Morgue.

My current workload is very Poe-oriented (about which more later) so I’ve been spending some time looking at earlier illustrators of the Boston maestro. Edgar Allan Poe’s stories don’t receive as much attention from illustrators as other popular works—horror and the macabre having a limited appeal—but there are nevertheless many illustrated editions, including this one from 1944 by Fritz Eichenberg which I hadn’t seen before. Eichenberg was a German who moved to America in the 1930s; his speciality was wood engraving, a technique particularly suited to Poe’s sombre dramatics. As always with illustrations of familiar stories, a large part of the interest lies in seeing how the artist has treated the work in their own manner. Several of the illustrations here show the climax of each story but The Pit and the Pendulum breaks with custom by showing the interrogation from the beginning (Harry Clarke showed both the beginning and the end). Also of note is the ape from The Murders in the Rue Morgue which for once looks like an orangutan rather than the unspecified simian monster seen in many other renderings.

Not all of Eichenberg’s illustrations are to my taste so this is a selection of favourites. You can see the rest at VTS together with more of the artist’s work.

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The Fall of the House of Usher.

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The Masque of the Red Death.

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Penda's Fen by David Rudkin