Weekend links 368

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Piazzetta San Marco by Moonlight (no date) by Friedrich Paul Nerly.

• RIP Heathcote Williams (Guardian obit, NYT obit): poet, playwright, actor, artist, anarchist, stage magician, and no doubt many other things besides. Being a product of the counter-culture, and one of Britain’s foremost anti-establishment writers (his polemics against the Royal Family were unceasing), Williams was a regular in the early publications produced by my colleagues at Savoy Books; in fact there’s a piece by him in The Savoy Book itself. Consequently, Williams always felt like a distant relative even though we never met. Of his many film appearances, which ranged from low-budget independent productions to Hollywood junk, he was ideally cast as Prospero in Derek Jarman’s film of The Tempest, and he audaciously steals a scene from Tilda Swinton in Sally Potter’s wonderful Orlando. Elsewhere: Jeremy Harding on Williams’ run-ins with the gatekeepers, and Why D’Ya Do It?, a song by Marianne Faithfull with lyrics by Williams.

• Mixes of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 226 by Chihei Hatakeyama, and SydArthur Festival 2: Summer of Love Edition by Head Heritage.

Geeta Dayal on composer and musique concrète pioneer Pierre Henry whose death was also announced this week.

Jonathan Meades reviews Vinyl.Album.Cover.Art: The Complete Hipgnosis Catalogue by Aubrey Powell.

• “Brutal! Vulgar! Dirty!” Polly Stenham on Mae West and the gay comedy that shocked 1920s America.

Hannah Devlin on religious leaders getting high on psilocybin for science.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…In Transit (1969) by Brigid Brophy.

• At Bibliothèque Gay: Matelots (1935) by Gregorio Prieto.

SD Sykes on reconsidering Venice, crumbling city.

Letters and Liquor

This Ain’t The Summer Of Love (1976) by Blue Öyster Cult | Orlando (1996) by Trans Am | Transit (2004) by Fennesz

Weekend links 356

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Im Hag by ToiToiToi will be Ghost Box 027, available from 12th May. Poster and album design, as always, by Julian House.

• The week in the electronic outer limits: The Haxan Cloak recorded a new piece of music using Moog’s Mother-32 modular synths; The Herzog Tapes is a new album by The Electric Pentacle; and Drew McDowell (ex-Coil, etc) has a new album, Unnatural Channel, out next month. (Vinyl-only, unfortunately, like his previous album.)

• More from Vinyl . Album . Cover . Art: The Complete Hipgnosis Catalogue by Aubrey Powell: How to design a record cover in 1977. The feature is a duplicate of Storm Thorgerson’s account in the first Hipgnosis book but since that volume has been out of print for decades it stands repeating.

• Talismanic Bookseller: Erik Davis talks to occult-book dealer and musician Richard Bishop talks about modern grimoires, scorpion gods, Orientalist imagery, and hunting down physical books in the age of the Internet.

Arbery Books, “the UK’s leading online dealer in rare and secondhand books and ephemera of gay, lesbian and transgender interest”, is closing its website at the end of May so there’s a sale on.

Amours Secrètes: Dans L’intimité Des Écrivains, an art book about the secret loves of five French writers: Marcel Proust, Pierre Loti, Renaud Icard, Roger Peyrefitte and Jean Genet.

• Ancient Methods and Futuristic Visions: Mark Pilkington & Michael J. York of Teleplasmiste answer 15 questions.

• Mix of the week: Homer Flynn, spokesperson of The Residents, compiles a playlist for The Wire.

Adrian Searle on Queer British Art 1861–1967 at Tate Britain: “strange, sexy, heartwrenching”.

Strange Flowers on August Endell (1871–1925) and the trees of spring.

Urania (1995) by Panasonic | Pan Finale (2010) by Pan Sonic | 5′ 42” (2014) by Pan Sonic

Weekend links 355

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Quería ser pájaro (1960) by Leonora Carrington.

• Artist and author Leonora Carrington was born 100 years ago this week. Marina Warner, an advocate of Carrington’s work in the years when the artist was “forgotten” (ie: ignored by those who should have known better), remembered her friend as someone adept at making “visible the invisible”. Elsewhere, Carrington’s centenary was noted by Phantasmaphile (with many links), Strange Flowers and the LRB, the latter being a Leonora Carrington A-Z by Chloe Aridjis.

Geeta Dayal on Ikutaro Kakehashi who died this week. The synthesizers, drum machines, effects units and other gear produced by Kakehashi’s Roland Corporation are inextricably entwined with the development of electronic music in the 1970s and 80s.

• Do we really need a compilation of singles by Can? Not when all the music has been available for years on albums and compilations. Of more interest is Rob Young‘s forthcoming (well…not until next year) biography of the band, All Gates Open.

• Out from Thames & Hudson this week: Vinyl . Album . Cover . Art: The Complete Hipgnosis Catalogue by Aubrey Powell.

• At Dangerous Minds: The Master of Moorcock: The psychedelic sci-fi book covers and art of Bob Haberfield.

Abigail Ward on Queer Noise: the history of LGBT+ music & club culture in Manchester.

FullFathom5, home of “something rich and strange” makes a welcome return.

• At Flickr: Occult Beliefs and Themes in British Popular Culture (1875–1947)

• At I Love Typography: Jamie Clarke on the evolution of chromatic fonts.

• Mix of the week: a mix for The Wire by Patterned Air Recordings.

Invisible Cities (1990) by Invaders Of The Heart | Invisible Architecture (1997) by John Foxx | Invisible (2005) by Monolake

Weekend links 239

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The Crystal Gazer (or The Magic Crystal, 1904) by Gertrude Käsebier.

• “I had to resort to extreme violence”: how Hipgnosis revolutionised the album sleeve. Aubrey Powell, last surviving member of the design team, talks to Joe Muggs.

• Mixes of the week: Radio Belbury: Programme 14; The Conjurer’s Hexmas by SeraphicManta; Secret Mix 139 by A Closer Listen.

• Social progress, high-speed transport and electricity everywhere: Iwan Rhys Morus on how the Victorians invented the future.

• At Cinephilia & Beyond: “The most complete investigation into the origins and making of Citizen Kane.”

Poor Souls’ Light: seven curious tales for the end of the year, and a dedication to Robert Aickman.

• Music and the Occult: Stuart Maconie and Rob Young spend an hour in the magick circle.

Alejandro Jodorowsky and Iain Sinclair in conversation at the British Library, July 2014.

• From 1972: An unpublished Victor Moscoso interview by Patrick Rosenkranz.

The Spooky Story Behind Hollywood’s Favourite Mansion.

The Lost World of British Tape Recording Clubs.

• 2014 was a year of outrage.

Wyrd Daze issue 11

Inspirograph

• Pepper-Tree (1984) by Cocteau Twins | Otterley (1984) by Cocteau Twins | Aikea-Guinea (1985) by Cocteau Twins

Storm Thorgerson, 1944–2013

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Wish You Were Here (outer and inner sleeve, 1975) by Pink Floyd.

Whenever people ask questions about your work at some point the subject of influences always turns up. Influences for me are usually few, they’re those things which skew your perception to such a degree—or which enlarge the range of possibilities—that they make you follow a path you might otherwise have never pursued. I’ve said on many occasions that the window of our local record shop in the 1970s was an art gallery whose contents changed every week, with gatefold sleeves offering an endless variety of fantastic visions and smart designs. I was often indifferent to the music the sleeves were intended to advertise, if a favourite band happening to have a great record sleeve then so much the better. It wasn’t that I wanted to be a record sleeve designer as such, more that the views (as Roger Dean called his first book) were incredibly stimulating, and they excited me enough that I wanted to have the creation of images like that in my future.

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Wish You Were Here shrinkwrap and George Hardie’s sticker design.

I’ve written at some length about Roger Dean and Barney Bubbles but it was Hipgnosis that dominated those window displays during the golden age of record sleeve design. Obituaries of Storm Thorgerson have rightly been acknowledging the contributions of his Hipgnosis design partners Aubrey Powell and Peter Christopherson, but Thorgerson always came across as the driving force, a position reinforced by his text for the group’s first book collection, An ABC of the Work of Hipgnosis: Walk Away René (1978), and by his post-Hipgnosis career which continued to generate even more startling images. Walk Away René is like the designs of Hipgnosis themselves: witty, clever, and beautifully produced, while Thorgerson’s commentary is refreshingly honest both about the details of album sleeve production, and in its lack of the affectation which afflicts many design books. Working in the music business probably helped maintain a no-bullshit attitude; it’s difficult to imagine many other designers cheerfully announcing in their first public showcase that their studio is so primitive that everyone has to piss in the sink. Or, as I noted in December, drawing attention to your least favourite covers in an even more lavish showcase.

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The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973) by Pink Floyd.

The cover examples here have been chosen via the essays in For the Love of Vinyl: The Album Art of Hipgnosis (2008) where several people were asked to choose their favourite sleeves. I’d find it impossible to choose a favourite although at a push I’d probably go for Wish You Were Here. With its absence/four elements concept, in its original package—the postcard insert, the unlabelled sleeve shrink-wrapped in black cellophane then stickered with a George Hardie drawing which I once laboriously copied—it comes close to perfection when you’re discussing album covers as works of art.

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Presence (1976) by Led Zeppelin.

The Hipgnosis Covers site is the place to see more work by Storm Thorgerson and company.

Storm Thorgerson, Pink Floyd and the final secret of the world’s greatest record sleeve designer
The Guardian: “The best album designer in the world”
Storm Thorgerson remembered by Aubrey Powell
Adrian Shaughnessy at Creative Review
Mark Blake at MOJO
Telegraph obituary

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Go 2 (1978) by XTC.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The record covers archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Hipgnosis turkeys
Peter Christopherson, 1955–2010
Storm Thorgerson: Right But Wrong
Battersea Power Station