Synapse: The Electronic Music Magazine, 1976–1979

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Synapse magazine has been mentioned here before, but only briefly in a weekend post. Looking last week for one of the back issues revealed that the scans of the magazine placed online by the publishers in 2012 have now vanished so this post links to an archive of PDFs at Monoskop. The publishers didn’t have copies of the first two issues so the run begins with issue 3.

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Synapse wasn’t around for very long but it’s of great interest for people like myself who have an enthusiasm for the analogue synthesizer music of the 1970s. The magazine was small but managed to secure interviews with major synthesists of the period (and Stockhausen!), as well as lesser-known figures who you wouldn’t expect to see in the general music press. Tangerine Dream and Brian Eno have never been starved of attention but the interviews with Isao Tomita and Michael Hoenig are valuable ones; the latter discusses his earlier career in the Kosmische band Agitation Free as well as his new album, the very Tangerine Dream-like Departure From The Northern Wasteland.

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Elsewhere in the magazine there are the usual technical articles that were common in journals of this type (the border between art and engineering in the early synthesizer world used to be as permeable as it was in the first decades of science fiction); and the latest synth-related albums receive reviews, many of which are more equivocal than you might expect. It’s a surprise seeing an album such as Ricochet by Tangerine Dream being treated with scepticism but then the reviewer evidently preferred the recordings of the group’s pre-Virgin period. Likewise, Kraftwerk were featured in the third issue but their Man-Machine album is given the same “Is this the future we really want?” appraisal they used to receive from the rock press.

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As always with old magazines, the ads are often as interesting as the editorial, and Synapse is filled with promotional material for a wide range of synth gear, from the major keyboard manufacturers to tiny electronic companies. It’s not every magazine where you can see a full-page command to “Trade in your Mellotron”.

Synapse contents list at Wikipedia

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Continue reading “Synapse: The Electronic Music Magazine, 1976–1979”

Weekend links 296

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Mars (variant design): one of three new posters for NASA by Invisible Creature.

• “If the point of Sade’s work was to marry sexual frustration and release to the practice of interpersonal violence, he could confidently gaze out on the landscape of our popular culture and declare it a fait accompli.” Hussein Ibish on The United Sades of America.

• Gravitational Waves Exist: The Inside Story of How Scientists Finally Found Them by Nicola Twilley. Sean Carroll explains the importance of the discovery.

• Another This Heat interview: Bruce Tantum interrogates Charles Bullen and Charles Hayward about being a group ahead of their time.

The English word comes ultimately from Greek magike (in which the original Persian word is spliced with tekhne, “art”), while the Persian magos “one of the members of the learned and priestly class” ultimately derives from magush, “to be able, to have power”, from which we may also derive the word “machine”. So my social hierarchy is your magic, and my magic might be your craft—or even your machinery. My religion is your magic. Your religion is my fairy lore. Or your religions might be a mass of fakery and trickery and foolery. Hence in making magic into an intellectual discipline, I theorize based on my observations, which might not be mine but those of others, heritable observations. But because what I do looks very like empiricism, as I examine materials for the tricks or fooleries, or for the real alterations, checking my results against descriptions of previous experiments, what I do feels like science, feels like the template for Baconian empiricism and its great instauration.

Diane Purkiss reviewing The Book of Magic: From Antiquity to the Enlightenment, edited by Brian Copenhaver

• The Strange World Of…The Residents: Sean Kitching talks to The Residents’ resident artist, Homer Flynn.

• At Strange Flowers: film of Natalie Barney in 1962 reminiscing about Oscar Wilde and Marcel Proust.

• From Battleship Potemkin to Baker Street: Ian Christie on Sergei Eisenstein’s trip to London.

• Mixes of the week: Krautrock Mix by Tarotplane, and Mix #15 (Transversales) by Jon Brooks.

• From Rock en Stock (France, 1973): Can and Agitation Free in live performance.

• Twenty classic British folk-horror stories: a selection by Kai Roberts.

Immemory: a Flash version of Chris Marker’s CD-ROM.

Cronenberg Valentines

Static Gravity (1980) by Chrome | Zero Gravity (2001) by Monolake | Gravity (2013) by Roly Porter

Weekend links 227

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A Follower by Jason Grim.

Haunted Futures, a multi-genre anthology from Ghostwoods Books, will feature stories by Warren Ellis, John Reppion, Liesel Schwarz, Chuck Wendig, Richard Kadrey, Stephen Blackmoore and others. It will also feature some of my illustrations but only if this this Kickstarter fund is successful.

• “…at issue here is restriction versus potential: protect a specific set of choices versus open the field to the exploration of everything.” Sam Potts offers a refutation of Robert Bringhurst’s design textbook The Elements of Typographic Style.

• “I discovered that if one looks a little closer at this beautiful world, there are always red ants underneath.” Morgan Meis quoting David Lynch in a review of David Lynch: The Unified Field, a new exhibition of Lynch’s paintings.

But among these novels only Moravagine, first discovered for English-speaking readers by Henry Miller and a direct ancestor of Céline’s Voyage au bout de la nuit, has survived as an underground classic. A monstrous admixture of Lautréamont’s Maldoror, Feuillade’s Fantômas, Nietzsche’s Superman, Jack the Ripper and (according to the Cendrars scholar Jay Bochner) the deranged Jung and Freud disciple Otto Gross, Moravagine remains Cendrars’s most nihilistic and darkly comic other.

Richard Sieburth on Blaise Cendrars and his “Dada update of Dostoevsky”, coincidentally the subject of a post here earlier in the week.

• “…the duchess became enthralled with the idea of creating a garden of plants that could kill instead of heal.” Natasha Geiling on Jane Percy’s Poison Garden.

• Mix of the week: Kosmik Elektronik [part 3] by The Kosmische Club. More Kosmische musik: Agitation Free on French television in 1973.

• At Dangerous Minds: Secret Weapons (1972), 22 minutes of made-for-TV dystopian science fiction directed by David Cronenberg.

Project Praeterlimina, “a journal of daemonology, magic, and the human condition”.

The NOS Project: download Shed’s score for Murnau’s Nosferatu.

• At Lambda Literary: Toy, a poem by Evan J. Peterson.

Drew Daniel doesn’t want to play the listicle game.

Surrealism and Magic

Stuff in old books

Haunted Island (1973) by Agitation Free | Haunted Heights (1977) by Peter Baumann | Haunted Dancehall (1994) by The Sabres of Paradise