Weekend links 364

focusgroup.jpg

Stop-Motion Happening with The Focus Groop is a new album by The Focus Group (now a Groop, apparently, à la Stereolab), and the next release on the Ghost Box label. Design, as always, by Julian House.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Sypha presents…Voyager en Soi-Même: a Tribute to JK Huysmans’ Là-Bas. Related: Henry Chapront’s illustrations for a 1912 edition of Huysmans’ novel.

• At the BFI: Graham Fuller on Penda’s Fen and the Romantic tradition in British film; Pamela Hutchinson and Alex Barrett choose 10 great German Expressionist films.

• The Provenance of Providence: Chris Mautner on the Lovecraftian comic series by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows.

Luke Turner on Sunn O))): the ecstatic doom metallers turning rock concerts into “ritualist experiences”.

• At Dangerous Minds: The homoerotic “needleporn” art of Zachary Nutman.

Conor McGrady on the visual art of Nurse With Wound’s Steven Stapleton.

• Collage and Mechanism: Anita Siegel’s art for Doubleday Science Fiction.

• Mix of the week: My name is Legion: Chapter 1 by The Ephemeral Man.

ChrisMarker.org is asking for small donations to help keep it running.

• 1967 is the year pop came out, says Jon Savage.

Allen Ginsberg’s Howl goes online.

Groupmegroup (1981) by Liquid Liquid | If I Were A Groupie (1995) by Pizzicato Five | Group Four (1998) by Massive Attack

Weekend links 317

mucha.jpg

Alphonse Mucha’s Le Pater, a book of mystical Symbolism written, designed and illustrated by the artist, was published in a limited edition in 1899. The book has been out of print ever since but Thomas Negovan at Century Guild will be reprinting it later this year.

• “Five axioms to define Europe: the coffee house; the landscape on a traversable and human scale; these streets and squares named after the statesmen, scientists, artists, writers of the past; our twofold descent from Athens and Jerusalem; and, lastly, that apprehension of a closing chapter, of that famous Hegelian sunset, which shadowed the idea and substance of Europe even in their noon hours.” George Steiner explores his idea of Europe.

Journey To The Edge Of The Universe by Upper Astral, 43 minutes of cosmic ambience, is a cassette-only release from 1983. The album has never been reissued so secondhand copies command excessive prices but it may be downloaded here.

• Mixes of the week: Three hours of ambience by Gregg Hermetech, XLR8R Podcast 446 by [Adrian] Sherwood x Nisennenmondai, and Secret Thirteen Mix 190 by Shxcxchcxsh.

Today [Angela] Carter is well known, widely taught in schools and universities, and much of what she presaged—in terms of recycling and updating (“old wine in new bottles”, she called it), or gender role play and reversal—has become commonplace in the culture. Despite this, many critics find it difficult to situate her work properly. This is partly because Carter is so sui generis (she has literary offspring but few antecedents), and partly because many struggle with the relationship of politics and aesthetics in her writing.

Kate Webb reviews two new books about Angela Carter

• Words that will forever pursue us: Tim Page on the late Michael Herr, “rock’n’roll voice of the Vietnam War”.

• From 2015: Luigi Serafini on how and why he created an encyclopedia of an imaginary world.

James Campbell on Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs: celebrating the Beats in Paris.

Fragile Beasts, an exhibition of grotesque print ornaments at Cooper Hewitt, NYC.

• Not before time, Guy Gavriel Kay wants to see an end to the plague of writing tips.

• David Bowie and Buster Keaton by Steve Schapiro.

Tom Charity on the films of Michael Cimino.

Alison Goldfrapp: photographer.

Golem Mecanique

European Man (1981) by Landscape | Europe After The Rain (1981) by John Foxx | Trans Europe Express (1994) by The One You Love

Brion Gysin record covers

gysin01.jpg

Shots (1977) by Steve Lacy.

Continuing an occasional series about artists or designers whose work has been used on record sleeves. The life and work of Brion Gysin (1916–1986) is the subject of a new exhibition, Unseen Collaborator, that opened last week at October Gallery, London. The gallery page mentions Gysin’s connections to the music world: among other things, it was Gysin’s enthusiasm for the Master Musicians of Jajouka that gave those people and their music global prominence, with a little help from Brian Jones. But there are other connections, whether as a collaborator with Steve Lacy, or as a decorator of album covers. Some of these uses are posthumous but this small collection includes a few releases I’d not come across before.

gysin02.jpg

Troubles (1979) by The Steve Lacy Quintet.

gysin03.jpg

Orgy Boys (1982) by Brion Gysin.

A 12-inch single with Gysin reading from William Burroughs and his own writings. “Songs dedicated to his orgy pals: William S. Burroughs, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Fafa de Palaminy, Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg and John Giorno…”

Continue reading “Brion Gysin record covers”

Weekend links 243

burgoyne.jpg

Genesia (2011) by Bette Burgoyne.

• “…so I started buying these old gay porn novels, just for the covers and kept on collecting them.” Maitland McDonagh on the underexamined world of gay pulp. McDonagh’s 120 Days Books is reprinting some of these scarce titles. More gay erotica: Plans are afoot to republish Des Grieux, the rare prequel to Teleny or The Reverse of the Medal (1893), a novel often attributed (without much evidence) to Oscar Wilde.

Merricat is the name under which the Turrell Brothers, John & Tom, produce their atmospheric “nacht music”. Albums with titles such as Oneiros, Widdershins and Zerkalo give an idea of the spheres of interest. They also make short films, clips from which may be seen here.

• “Fascists don’t like satire. They don’t like it at all. And they especially don’t enjoy visual satire. Because of its unique power to communicate.” Ralph Steadman talking to Robert Chalmers about recent events.

There is an unexamined commonplace now floating around the social media, which has it that satire derogates its proper function when it stops targeting the powerful, and targets the relatively powerless instead. Theodor Adorno has also been cited here and there with his remarks on satire in the Minima Moralia of 1951, but few have noticed that the account he offers there stands in direct contradiction to the current received wisdom. For Adorno, satire is in its essence wistful and traditionalist. It looks back to something that has been lost, and dismisses the straight-facedness of everyone who attempts, against all evidence, to maintain the illusion that there is anything respect-worthy about the present state of things. It targets not just elected officials, but the yokels who elected them; not just the honcho who runs the saloon, but the sucker who hands over his last possessions at the poker table. There is a need for this: the yokels and the suckers need it most of all. There is redemption in it, and I confess to harboring whatever amount of traditionalism it takes to appreciate this redemptive quality.

Paris, 2015: a lengthy meditation by Justin EH Smith on the responses of left and right to the Charlie Hebdo killings

• “When the surface of the world is so overloaded with competing narratives…there is an understandable impulse to go underground.” Iain Sinclair on the excavation of London.

• More German music: Sinai Desert (1981) and Kailash, Pilgerfahrt Zum Thron Der Götter (no date), two films with music by Popol Vuh.

Kim Fowley: Sins & Secrets of the Silver Sixties. UglyThings Magazine makes available its definitive Fowley interview from 2001.

• More electronica and mix of the week: the FACT guide to the Yellow Magic Orchestra and associates.

• Vegetable-snake Undersea Beings: Allen Ginsberg writes to the Paris Review about LSD in 1966.

• The Edge Question for 2015: What do you think about machines that think?

Life of Cats: Selections from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Collection.

Lake Baikal frozen over

Serial Killer Barbie

NGC 891 (1974) by Edgar Froese | Overture (1974) by Tangerine Dream | PA 701 (1976) by Edgar Froese

Trip texts

trip1.jpg

I would have changed the subject today if it wasn’t for spotting a copy of David Solomon’s LSD: The Consciousness-Expanding Drug (1964) in Roger Corman’s notorious and rather creditable stab at psychedelia, The Trip (1967). Corman’s film is an oddity in his run of AIP exploitation films in being far less condemnatory than you’d expect (although Peter Fonda’s character isn’t always enjoying his experience), and must also be the only film in the whole AIP canon with signifying texts.

trip2.jpg

By the time Solomon’s book makes an appearance, Fonda’s character, Paul, has started freaking out but earlier on, during his conversations with John (Bruce Dern), we have Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems (1956) shouting out of the frame. “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness…” Okay Rog, we get it.

trip3.jpg

There’s more, however. Behind Howl there’s another book whose identity eludes me, while behind that you can make out the red typography and white dorje symbol from the 1960 OUP edition of The Tibetan Book of the Dead. The only reason I recognised this is because I own that edition so the cover is very familiar. This would be a popular text in an acid-tripper’s apartment; John tells Paul to “Relax and float down stream”, a line that recapitulates the advice given in Leary, Metzner and Alpert’s The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead (1964). Most surprising for me about this inclusion is that The Tibetan Book of the Dead features a lot more prominently in that other major film about psychedelic experience, Enter the Void (2009). Am I the only person to have made this material connection? Probably. Does anyone care? Probably not, but I do like recording these associations.

trip4.jpg

tbotd.jpg

Cover design by Lawrence Ratzkin.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Acid albums
Acid covers
Lyrical Substance Deliberated
The Art of Tripping, a documentary by Storm Thorgerson
Enter the Void
In the Land of Retinal Delights
The art of LSD
Hep cats