Weekend links 496

kemeny.jpg

Fahrenheit 451 (1966) poster by György Kemény.

• “The novel is constantly assailed by people wanting to conscript it to their own ends. (Other art forms are not similarly burdened; someone yelling ‘What about global warming?’ between numbers at a Keith Jarrett concert would be recognized to have made a category error.)” Jonathan Clarke on the demands that literature should nurture empathy.

• The first three features by Alejandro Jodorowsky—Fando y Lis (1968), El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973)—return to Britain’s cinema screens in January (well…two of them return; I’m not sure that Fando y Lis has ever been shown in cinemas over here). All three films will be given overdue blu-ray releases by Arrow in March.

• “What distinguishes Oulipo from other language games, is that its methods have to be capable of producing valid literary results.” Tony White reviews The Penguin Book of Oulipo: Queneau, Perec, Calvino and the Adventure of Form, edited by Philip Terry.

But from a present-day perspective, it is also remarkable the extent to which cafés, busy conduits for knowledge and sentiment, resembled later digitally connected systems. The larger establishments offered not just a huge selection of newspapers, domestic and foreign, but also reference material—maps, dictionaries, encyclopaedias, language lexicons, address books—for writers struggling with their research, or merely trying to settle an argument. The combination of hard facts and caffeinated opinion firing through the steamy analogue ether constituted a local area network of extraordinary reach. In the pre-digital era, the Viennese café offered the greatest possible concentration of current knowledge—for the price of a mélange.

From the Strange Flowers guide to Vienna, part 2

• “People like Edmund Wilson and Isaiah Berlin, they have to love Zhivago to prove that good writing can come out of Soviet Russia. They ignore that it is really a bad book.” Jennifer Wilson on Vladimir Nabokov’s fighting spirit.

• Master animator Richard Williams died in August so here again is the exceptional adaptation of A Christmas Carol made by his studio in 1971.

• Hearing a person: Annea Lockwood remembers her partner, composer Ruth Anderson, whose death was announced last week.

• The London Review of Books has relaunched its website. The paywall is currently down until mid-January so dig in.

Live In Paris by Pharoah Sanders, a previously unreleased ORTF concert recording from 1975.

• Unrising sun: Amos Chapple’s photographs of the polar nights of Murmansk.

Mary McNamara on the rescuing of 200 historic Hollywood backdrops.

• Mix of the week: XLR8R Podcast 623 by Aida.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Sandy Dennis Day.

The Desert Is A Circle (1970) by Shades Of Joy | The Desert Is A Circle (1971) by Paul Horn | Holy Mountain (1994) by Axiom Ambient

Weekend links 363

sommers.jpg

The Constant Drumbeat of Terrible News (no date) by Allison Sommers.

• Nadia Khomami on Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty, an exhibition at the British Library. Related: Simon McCallum‘s potted history of LGBT characters on British screens. Elsewhere: writer and philanthropist Chuck Forester on gay sex in the 1970s.

The Panic Fables: Mystic Teachings and Initiatory Tales by Alejandro Jodorowsky. Finally available in English, a collection of all the comic strips written and illustrated by Jodorowsky when he was living in Mexico in the 1960s.

• A trailer for the restored print of The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (1961) by Karel Zeman. Related: collage designs by Graphic Manipulator for a Japanese collection of Zeman’s films.

• “Whether divining ancient wisdoms or elevating the art of cold reading, Tarot is a form of therapy, much like psychoanalysis,” says James McConnachie.

James Reith on “the Icelandic publisher that only prints books during a full moon – then burns them”.

• Mixes of the week: Wire 400 Mix #6 by Emptyset, and Secret Thirteen Mix 223 by Constantine.

• Mud And Flame: Penda’s Fen re-examined by Matthew Harle and James Machin.

Tilda Swinton in a Leonora Carrington-inspired fashion shoot for i-D magazine.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on William Burroughs’ The Wild Boys.

Applied Ballardianism: A Theory of Nothing by Simon Sellars.

• At Dangerous Minds: The Dark Rift by Jim Jarmusch’s Sqürl.

French Underground Rock: 1967–1980; a Discogs list.

Suzanne Ciani‘s favourite albums.

Infinite artwork: Untitled, 2017

Rip, Rig And Panic (1965) by The Roland Kirk Quartet | Panic (1984) by Coil | Flash Of Panic (1994) by Axiom Ambient

Konx om Pax

konx1.jpg

Not the musician but the book of “Essays in Light” published by Aleister Crowley in 1907. I’ve been familiar with this for years but only via the many reprints. It was only recently that I discovered the striking cover design of the first edition which, we’re told, was designed by Crowley himself during a hashish bout. I’ve not been able to find the source for this piece of information but it’s not in the chapter of his autobiography where he discusses the writing of the book. (Matters aren’t helped by Konx om Pax not being listed in the index.) If anyone has the relevant details then please leave a comment.

konx2.jpg

In design terms this cover might seem radical for 1907 but if Crowley did design it I’d guess he was thinking of a quite common geometric variation of Kufic script. Crowley travelled East as far as China, and had an abiding interest in languages of all kinds. Konx om Pax opens with a quote in Arabic from the Qur’an which is followed by a succession of quotes in different languages including Hebrew, Chinese, Ancient Greek, Sanskrit and hieroglyphic Egyptian.

konx3.jpg

Konx om Pax (2011) by Fredrik Söderberg.

Crowley’s lettering turns up much later in this painting by Fredrik Söderberg. The phrase was also referenced during the 1990s on many of Bill Laswell’s recordings, often by cryptic phrasing on CD stickers. The name forms part of one of the tracks on Laswell’s Axiom Ambient album from 1994, an album which includes a sample of Crowley’s voice. Also in the 1990s, Laswell was making frequent use of what MacGregor Mathers claimed was the English translation of the Egyptian origin of the phrase: “Khabs am Pekht” or “Light in extension”. One of Laswell’s many dub projects, Divination, released two compilation albums called Light In Extension, while the phrase “Khabs am Pekht” (which had me mystified for years) appears on the back of Material’s magnificent Hallucination Engine (1994). One of my favourite albums, which also includes a portion of a Crowley Tarot card in its James Koehnline artwork.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Burroughs at 100
Aleister Crowley: Wandering The Waste
Brush of Baphomet by Kenneth Anger
Rex Ingram’s The Magician
The Mysteries of Myra
Aleister Crowley on vinyl

Burroughs at 100

wsb.jpg

Something from 1994 I found in an old sketchbook. Ink on paper with no preliminary drawing.

Happy birthday, Bill. To celebrate the Burroughs centenary I could have put together several very different mixes of Burroughs-related music—there’s been a lot of it, and he was blessed with some excellent collaborators—but in the end decided on a version of something I’ve been messing with on and off for about twenty years.

Seven Souls Resouled by Feuilleton on Mixcloud

Bill Laswell’s associations with William Burroughs go back to Laurie Anderson’s Mister Heartbreak (1984) album which Laswell played bass on and co-produced. Burroughs had a guest spot on the last track, Sharkey’s Night, and that session may have led to the 1989 album by Laswell’s Material project, Seven Souls, a seven-track album based around Burroughs’s readings of passages from The Western Lands. This has always been my favourite of all the albums which set Burroughs texts to music, not least because Laswell has always surrounded himself with exceptional musicians. I liked this album so much I used to try padding it out on cassette tape with other Laswell productions, many of which feature the same musicians, and even similar riffs and instrument sounds. I could never settle on a definitive mix, however, and even the one presented here doesn’t feel absolutely right although it works far better than all previous versions. Matters aren’t helped by there being much extraneous material (so to speak): Seven Souls was reissued in 1997 with remix tracks, and there’s also a related EP, The Road To The Western Lands, with further remixes. Then there are the many tracks which match the Seven Souls sound, not least on the 1994 Material album, Hallucination Engine, which also features a Burroughs reading. Laswell’s solo albums, and much of his Axiom label, is infected by Burroughs-like titles; for a while Axiom even promoted its world- and genre-spanning ethos with the slogan “Nothing is true; everything is permitted”. The Beatles may have put Burroughs’s face on the cover of the Sgt Pepper album but Bill Laswell has done far more to spread the virus of the man’s work. Below there’s a guide to the tracks followed by another visit to the Wild Boys.

William S. Burroughs – Word Falling, Photo Falling (1960s)
One of the numerous tape recordings from the 1960s which are like audio equivalents of the books Burroughs was writing at the time. This one is from Nothing Here Now But The Recordings (1981).

Material – Ineffect (1989)
The first track from Seven Souls.

Ginger Baker – Dust to Dust (1986)
Bill Laswell produced two Ginger Baker solo albums, Horses and Trees (1986), from which this track is taken, and Middle Passage (1990). Both feature Laswell’s core group of Material musicians including Nicky Skopelitis, Bernie Worrell and Aiyb Dieng. Baker was a member of a later incarnation of Material, and appears on the Live In Japan (1993) album.

Material – Seven Souls (1989)
The second track from Seven Souls.

Material – Ruins (Submutation Dub by Bill Laswell) (1994)
From Material’s other masterwork, the mighty Hallucination Engine.

Material – Soul Killer (1989)
The third track from Seven Souls.

Ginger Baker – Under Black Skies (1990)
From Baker’s Middle Passage album.

Material – The Western Lands (1989)
The fourth track from Seven Souls.

Mandingo – Lanmbasy Dub (Kora in Hell Mix by Bill Laswell) (1993)
A slight deviation from the Seven Souls tracklist. The first four Burroughs tracks were followed by two very different pieces: Deliver, featuring the voice of Gambian musician and kora player Foday Musa Suso, and Equation which combined a rock riff with Rammellzee’s vocals. Foday Musa Suso is another floating member of Material who also released an album, New World Power (1990) on Laswell’s Axiom label under the name Mandingo. This track is an extended remix of the first track from New World Power.

Bill Laswell (with William S. Burroughs, Techno Animal, Iggy Pop) – The Western Lands (1999)
Hashisheen : The End Of Law is one of many one-off Laswell projects, this one featuring a collection of readings about Hassan i Sabbah set to music. Burroughs appears briefly two years after his death reading what may have been a Seven Souls outtake. Iggy Pop then reads a piece from The Western Lands.

Material feat. Rammellzee & phonosycographDISK – No Guts No Galaxy (1999)
In place of Equation from Seven Souls there’s this rap number from Material’s Intonarumori album.

Bill Laswell – Flash Of Panic [Pipes Of Pan / Up Above The World / Under Black Skies / Out Of The Ether] (1994)
Part of a track from the Axiom Ambient album which blends some of Laswell’s recording of the pan pipes at Jajouka with strings from a Jonas Hellborg album, and Omar Faruk Tekbilek’s ney from Under Black Skies.

Material – Soul Killer (Remote Control Mix by Terre Thaemlitz) (1997)
The reissue of Seven Souls featured three remixes of which this has always been my favourite. Terre Thaemlitz subjects Burroughs’s voice to some granular distortion then cuts-up his words.

Material – The End of Words (1989)
The seventh and final track from Seven Souls.

Continue reading “Burroughs at 100”