Weekend links 528

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The Rhinoceros (after 1620) by Albrecht Dürer.

• “Today—Tolkien, Lovecraft, Miéville and M John Harrison!” Paul StJohn Mackintosh at Greydogtales explores HP Lovecraft’s lack of interest in fictional worldbuilding. The piece includes one of my book covers (ta!) plus a link to an earlier post I wrote about the cover designs of M. John Harrison’s Viriconium books. Since I’m connected to the thesis I’ll suggest that Lovecraft was resistant to the worldbuilding impulse in part because he was almost always writing horror stories. Having studied the genre at length he was well aware of the need to leave suggestive voids for the reader’s imagination.

• RIP Denise Johnson. All the obituaries mention the big names she worked with, notably New Order and Primal Scream, but being in the pool of Manchester session artists she also appeared on a couple of records by my colleagues at Savoy. Her voice is one of those you first hear on the PJ Proby cover of I’m On Fire, while with friend Rowetta she improvised her way through a Hi-NRG original (and a favourite of Anohni’s), the scurrilous Shoot Yer Load.

• At the BFI: Axel Madsen interviews Fritz Lang in 1967; Serena Scateni on where to begin with Nobuhiko Obayashi; and Roger Luckhurst reviews the spomenik-infested  Last and First Men by Jóhann Jóhannsson.

• “Be more aware of the rest of the world!” says Jon Hassell, talking to Alexis Petridis about a life spent making music.

John Boardley on the Renaissance origins of the printed poster. Worth it for the selection of engraved details alone.

• “What Ever Happened To Chicken Fat?” Jackson Arn on a tendency to over-abundance in Jewish humour.

Erik Davis has a new writing home at Substack that he calls The Burning Shore. Bookmarked.

• Mix of the week: The Ivy-Strangled Path Vol. XXII by David Colohan.

• Garry Hensey on The Strange World of John Foxx.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Sergei Parajanov Day.

Romantic Rhino (1981) by Ananda Shankar | The Lone Rhinoceros (1982) by Adrian Belew | Blastic Rhino (2000) by King Crimson

Weekend links 526

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La Cathédrale Engloutie (1952) by Ithell Colquhoun.

• Many of the recent lists of “where to start with the music of [x]” aren’t filling an urgent requirement, but in the case of Sun Ra—whose discography runs to 95 albums—any guide is a useful one: Sean Kitching chooses 10 recordings from the Ra galaxy. I’m not unacquainted with Sun Ra’s music but there’s so much of it that almost all these suggestions are news. Related: Namwali Serpell on the life and work of a cosmic visionary.

• Coming soon from Strange Attractor, Ithell Colquhoun: Genius of The Fern Loved Gulley by Amy Hale, the first book-length study of the life and work of the British Surrealist and occult artist.

• I doubt I’ll get to see it but I’m pleased to know that the prematurely shuttered Aubrey Beardsley exhibition is returning to Tate Britain. You’ll need a Decadent face-mask.

• And speaking of music lists, Alexis Petridis compiles a ranking of all the songs by a little-known post-punk band from Manchester.

The Last Arcadian (Process Mix): more psychotropic nougat from Moon Wiring Club.

• Kill Me Again… Ken Hollings on Ennio Morricone and the music of the future.

Mervyn Peake‘s visual archive has been acquired by the British Library.

Anitra Pavlico on the fantastic world (and music) of Maurice Ravel.

Stanley Stellar‘s photos of the New York gay scene in the 1980s.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Fetish.

• RIP Judy Dyble.

Wikidelia

Chelsea Morning (1968) by Fairport Convention | I Talk To The Wind (1968) by Giles, Giles & Fripp feat. Judy Dyble | Morning Way (1970) by Trader Horne

Weekend links 177

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A new Wicker Man poster by Dan Mumford appears on the cover of the forthcoming DVD/BR reissues. Prints are available.

• The long-awaited release of a restored print of Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man approaches. Dangerous Minds has a trailer while The Guardian posted a clip of the restored footage. The latter isn’t anything new if you’ve seen the earlier uncut version, but the sound and picture quality are substantially better. I’ve already ordered my copy from Moviemail.

• “It’s a fairly bleak place, and it has this eerie atmosphere. East Anglia is always the frontline when there’s an invasion threatening, so there are lumps of concrete dissolving into sand, bits of barbed wire and tank tracks that act as a constant reminder. I really love it.” Thomas Dolby talking to Joseph Stannard about environment and memory.

Dome Karukoski is planning a biopic of artist Tom of Finland. Related: Big Joy, a documentary about the life and work of James Broughton, poet, filmmaker and Radical Faerie.

The desire to be liked is acceptable in real life but very problematic in fiction. Pleasantness is the enemy of good fiction. I try to write on the premise that no one is going to read my work. Because there’s this terrible impulse to grovel before the reader, to make them like you, to write with the reader in mind in that way. It’s a terrible, damaging impulse. I feel it in myself. It prevents you doing work that is ugly or upsetting or difficult. The temptation is to not be true to what you want to write and to be considerate or amusing instead.

Novelist Katie Kitamura talks to Jonathan Lee.

Leonora Carrington: The Celtic Surrealist opens on Wednesday at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.

Julia Holter turns spy in the video for This Is A True Heart.

Alexis Petridis talks to graphic designer Peter Saville.

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Al-Naafiysh (The Soul) by Hashim. From the Program Your 808 poster series by Rob Rickets.

Rob Goodman on The Comforts of the Apocalypse.

Post-Medieval Illustrations of Dante’s Sodomites.

• Annoy Jonathan Franzen by playing Cat Bounce!

Paolozzi at Pinterest

The Surrealist Waltz (1967) by Pearls Before Swine | The Jungle Line (1981) by Low Noise (Thomas Dolby) | Al-Naafiysh (The Soul) (1983) by Hashim

Peter Christopherson, 1955–2010

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Coil, circa 1984. John Balance (left) & Peter Christopherson (right). Photo by Lawrence Watson.

The depths of the night sky
Reflects in his eye
He says “Everything changes
And everyone dies.”

Coil, Blood From The Air (1986)

Yes, everyone dies but you don’t always expect it this soon, six years after the sudden loss of John Balance. Coil and Throbbing Gristle were refreshingly direct about the transience of existence so we should no doubt regard these moments with the necessary degree of philosophy. And yet… I’ve said for years that we lack an adequate complement of innovators, genuine creators, rare minds, and what Robert Anton Wilson used to call Intelligence Agents; such people always seem too few, especially in a world where hatred and ignorance are encouraged by those eager to keep us unfulfilled, the easier to manipulate and control. There’s a natural desire each time you discover a like-minded soul to want them to stay around for as long as possible, to help shine a thousand lights in a darkened room.

I never met Peter Christopherson but I saw him on stage with Psychic TV in Manchester in 1983, and as part of Coil for their thrilling performance at the Royal Festival Hall, London, in 2000. We corresponded sporadically via letter and email throughout the 1990s, and spoke on the phone a couple of times. Coil wanted me to create a cover for one of their releases and we talked about this on and off for several years but nothing ever came of the plans, something I regret to this day. Peter bought a drawing off me ten years ago (this one), and he remains one of the few people I’ve sold any artwork to. I broke my usual rule on that occasion out of respect for his work. That work is mostly acknowledged as being musical, and it’s the music—as a member of Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, Coil, and TG again—that other obituaries will rightly celebrate. But he was also a talented photographer and graphic designer whose earliest public works were for the design group Hipgnosis in the 1970s. He joined Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell as an assistant in the mid-70s and became a full partner in 1980. As a freelance photographer he shot the first promo pictures of the Sex Pistols in 1976, photos which (if I remember correctly) Malcolm McLaren decided not to use because they looked too heavy. Or maybe too queer…see this appraisal by John Gill from his book Queer Noises. It was Peter Christopherson’s design authority that gave the Throbbing Gristle releases a quality many other independent productions lacked in the post-punk era. He brought the same visual finesse to Psychic TV in 1982 and it was painfully obvious when that finesse was withdrawn after he and John Balance left PTV in 1983 to form Coil. I owe Coil more than I can easily articulate. I’ve spent hours and hours listening to their music whilst working; the full range of their interests probably matched mine more completely than any other group I’ve encountered. It was a real shock when everything crashed to an end in 2004. It’s good to know that the Coil site at Brainwashed has a wealth of interviews and articles going back through the years. And there’s still the music, of course.

Fellow TG members Cosey Fanni Tutti and Chris Carter issued some words of remembrance a few hours ago which they end by saying: “Peter was a kind and beautiful soul. No words can express how much he will be missed.” A few examples of his photography and design work follow.

Update: Full Guardian obituary by Alexis Petridis | Genesis P-Orridge Pays Tribute To Sleazy.

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