Weekend links 422

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Wu Ming, a communist writing collective known for its historical fiction, sees Kolosimo as using pseudohistory as a tool to shake people from their belief that capitalist society is natural and transhistorical, opening minds to other possibilities for how humans can live. They regret that popular proponents of his theories today, like Graham Hancock and Erich von Däniken, are unable to recognize the political motivations behind his project: “Nothing of his radicality survives in today’s copycats… Every corner has been blunted, the heresy has become telegenic, but we know that the revolution will not be televised.”

The secret history of Marxist alien hunters by AM Gittlitz

I received the Sphere edition of Peter Kolosimo’s book as a Christmas present in 1974, and being 12 years old at the time took its theories fairly seriously. As a work of pseudohistory it’s as poor as the books of Erich von Däniken but I always liked the title, and it happens to be the place I first encountered the mysterious words “Popol Vuh”, a name that would acquire a very different significance a few years later. Kolosimo also joins Kenneth Grant in taking HP Lovecraft’s work as a thin fictionalisation of supposed fact. For a serious dismantling of Not of This World see this review (the first of three parts) by “skeptical xenoarchaelogist” Jason Colavito.

• The Archons are back: Erik Davis talks with Gnostic scholar Matthew Dillon about religious mourning, the Nag Hammadi library, sex-magick Jesus, the Gnostic Eden, David Icke’s lizards, and the power of the Archons as an allegory of contemporary technological and political power.

Crystal Voyager (1973) is a surfing film by David Elfick that ends with a 23-minute sequence of slow-motion waves set to Echoes by Pink Floyd. Some of the same footage later appeared in the final scenes of Peter Weir’s The Last Wave (1977).

• Sweet artifice: “Dandies in the age of decadence favoured synthetics over nature, nowhere more so than in perfumery’s fabulous counterfeits,” says Catherine Maxwell.

• Now for a lampshade solo: Pascal Wyse on how the Radiophonic Workshop built the future of sound.

• Wilde about Paris: Alex Dean on the sex, drink and liberation of Oscar Wilde’s “lost” years.

Bee in the City: the vanguard of an invading army from Planet Bee.

• Five books that most inspired Alexander McQueen.

Colin Newman‘s favourite albums.

Echoes (1969) by Leon Thomas | Echo Waves (1974) by Ash Ra Tempel | Not Of This World (1988) by Danzig

Weekend links 351

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Herald on Griffin (1516-1518) from The Triumphal Procession of Emperor Maximilian I series by Hans Burgkmair the Elder.

• My design and illustration work for Pirate Utopia by Bruce Sterling continues to gain favourable comments, a novelty when reviewers often pass over the visual component of the books under their consideration. One of the most recent examples is in the latest edition of Locus Magazine; this can only be read in full by subscribers but the Tachyon Tumblr has an extract.

Paul La Farge on the complicated friendship of HP Lovecraft and Robert Barlow. Related: The Night Ocean, a short story by Barlow & Lovecraft. Meanwhile, Lovecraft enthusiasts are still raising money for a Providence statue (spot my art and design work in the photo of the Lovecraft Art and Sciences Council).

• At The Quietus this week: Children Of Alice talk to Patrick Clarke about audio collage and English Surrealism, Lottie Brazier enters The Strange World of Annette Peacock, and Manuel Göttsching tells Robert Barry how Ash Ra Tempel became the loudest band in Berlin.

• “Mind the doors!” Eight reviewers pick ten films featuring the London Underground. Not a bad list but choosing a Doctor Who film while ignoring the great Quatermass and the Pit (1967) is an error.

• Mixes of the week: Swedenborgian Hobos by acephale, Secret Thirteen Mix 214 by Fabio Perletta, and a mix for NTS by Six Organs Of Admittance.

• More Surrealism: Leonor Fini, Surrealist Sorceress, a lecture by Dr Sabina Stent, will take place at Treadwell’s Bookshop, London, on 19th May.

• “Michael Chapman’s road-weary guitar resonates with a new generation,” says Joel Rose.

A Journey Round my Room (1794), a book by Xavier de Maistre.

Lyrical Nitrate (1991), a film by Peter Delpeut.

The Sorcerer (1967) by Miles Davis | Impressions Of Sorcerer (1977) by Tangerine Dream | Venom Sorcerer (2014) by Cultural Apparati

Weekend links 328

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Feathers and Weights (2016) by Susan Jamison.

• The latest release from A Year In The Country is No More Unto The Dance, “a reflection of nightlife memories and the search for the perfect transportative electronic beat”.

Depero Futurista (1927), the bolted book showcasing the artistic work of Fortunato Depero, returns in a facsimile edition.

• This week in the occult: Sam Kean on 21st-century alchemists, and a second volume of The Occult Activity Book.

How could so many jazz critics have overlooked Davis’s powerful trumpet playing on Bitches Brew, and its continuities with his previous work? The reason for their bewilderment was, in large part, the brew, the music’s muddy electric bottom, which bore no resemblance to the jazz they knew. Davis had never been a pure bopper, but his music had always made allusion, however oblique, to the grammar of Parker and Gillespie. On Bitches Brew, Davis decisively broke with his roots in bop. As [George] Grella argues, building on the pivotal work of Greg Tate and Paul Tingen, the more revealing points of comparison were no longer to be found in jazz but in the psychedelic guitar of Jimi Hendrix, the warbled vocals of Sly Stone, and the bass lines of James Brown.

Adam Shatz on Miles Davis

Daniel Wenger on Bob Mizer, “the obsessive photographer behind America’s first gay magazine”.

The Hauntings at Tankerton Park, a book of words and very detailed drawings by Reggie Oliver.

• A 40-minute performance by Pentangle for Norwegian television in 1968.

Maisie Skidmore on ten things you may not know about René Magritte.

• Shirley Collins is the secret queen of England, says Nick Abrahams.

Eighth Climate: ethnographic recordings from the imaginal world.

Pasquale Iannone on five ways to recognise a Pasolini film.

The greatest record sleeves, as chosen by the designers.

Cosmic Horror, new comics work by Ibrahim R. Ineke.

• Mix of the week: FACT mix 569 by S U R V I V E.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: 47 unmade films.

Cosmic Dancer (1971) by T. Rex | Cosmic Slop (1973) by Funkadelic | Cosmic Tango (1973) by Ash Ra Tempel

Weekend links 293

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Red Petals by Sarah Meyohas.

• “For MMoB, I want it to be like a [Werner] Herzog movie, so at our concerts the people on stage aren’t necessarily people who are named. We’re trying to create an entity that is beyond music and relates visually and sonically with everything in a way that’s different.” Randall Dunn talks to Simona Mantarlian and Daniel Jones about the Master Musicians of Bukkake and his production work for other artists.

• “Is reel-to-reel tape the new vinyl?” asks FACT mag. It’s certainly better than cassette tape (if less convenient) but it was always a niche format for albums, even in the 1970s. Rene Chun made a similar argument for an emerging trend last October. Those expensive machines do look tempting… Early adopters should start collecting here before prices rise.

Airwaves: Songs From The Sirens is a new release of spectral audio transmissions by A Year In The Country: “…a gathering of scattered signals plucked from the ether, cryptograms that wander amongst the airwaves…” Physical versions come with the usual plethora of monochrome artefacts.

A vivid memory to his friends, Litvinoff was one of those people whose performance was their life. His most lasting achievement was the profound influence he had on Performance – the hallucinatory film directed by Nic Roeg and Donald Cammell, and starring Mick Jagger, which captured the London of the late 1960s, merging pop stardom, violent criminality, illegal drugs, gender-blurring, the occult and Jorge Luis Borges.

Jon Savage on David Litvinoff

• Virgin Prunes “are THE #1 most underrated group of the post-punk era” says Richard Metzger. I’d say that honour goes to The Passage but the Virgin Prunes were unique even if they’re too often dismissed as a freak footnote in the U2 story.

Magic, Witches & Devils in the Early Modern World is a free exhibition at the John Rylands Library, Manchester, that will run until August 2016. Related: “John Dee painting originally had circle of human skulls, x-ray imaging reveals.”

• “What I’m seeing now is an awful lot of people just following things. We tried to find our own thing and ask, ‘What else is there?'” Charles Hayward on the past and present of post-punk band This Heat.

• “I’ve never been tempted to write anything that was not essentially nightmarish.” Thomas Ligotti in a comprehensive profile (originally run in 2010) at Dennis Cooper’s blog.

• Mixes of the week: An introduction to Stereolab by Jon Dale, and Silent Radio Transmission Jan 2016 by SilentServant.

• Kicked Toward Saintliness: Max Nelson on the dark erotics of Jean Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers.

• Reverse Engineering: Danny Hyde on Coil, Backwards and NIN.

Fuck Yeah! Anna von Hausswolff

Harry Flowers (1970) by Jack Nitzsche | Flowers In The Air (1970) by Sally Eaton | Darkness: Flowers Must Die (1972) by Ash Ra Tempel

The kosmische design of Peter Geitner

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Cyborg (1973) by Klaus Schulze.

More German music design. Once you start delving into the music produced in Germany between 1969 and 1975 you eventually notice that a) the good albums generally have decent cover designs, and b) there are many justly forgotten albums with astonishingly tasteless artwork. Most of the well-known names were smart enough to craft a visual identity: Kraftwerk’s efforts have been explored here recently but there was also the Gothic Surrealism of Falk-U Rogner’s photo montages for Amon Düül II (worthy of a post in themselves); Neu! followed the lead of Kraftwerk with strikingly minimal presentation; Faust’s debut album was released on transparent vinyl in a clear sleeve while their second album was an all-black sleeve with a series of strange pictures inside, one for each song. Can are a notable exception in having no clear identity.

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Peter Geitner is unique in this scene in being the only graphic designer you can find who was creating any kind of consistent identity for a label and a group of artists. Almost all the work here is for Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser’s short-lived Kosmische Musik which replaced the earlier Die Kosmischen Kuriere. Both labels were offshoots of Ohr Records (Tangerine Dream’s original home), and catered mostly to the musicians based in Berlin, with a later detour to Switzerland. All the releases feature Geitner’s recurrent motifs of radiating stars and sunburst graphics. I think one of the reasons I like Geitner’s design is because I have a tendency to use similar spiky sunbursts in my own work. Whatever Geitner did after the collapse of Kosmische Musik I’ve yet to discover.

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The standard design for the vinyl labels. Many of the albums were released as quadrophonic mixes so the star logo also signifies multi-directional sound. Klaus Schulze’s album is nothing if not cosmic, four sides of treated strings and swirling synth noise.

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Seven Up (1973) by Timothy Leary & Ash Ra Tempel.

This is a reissue design that replaces the more common sleeve with its Walter Wegmüller doodles and poor layout. I didn’t used to like the music very much either, two sides of bluesy jams with Tim Leary and cohorts bellowing over the top. But it’s a historical oddity, a rare connection between the US psychedelic scene and the German music which took psychedelia in new directions.

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