Weekend links 87

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Untitled art by Katie Scott.

“…the very fact that people cannot get published by the big-name publishers in the way that they used to has meant that you’ve got some really interesting and often really beautiful little small publishing houses that are springing up and coming into existence. And the stuff that they’re providing is actually a lot better. I’m thinking of people like Tartarus Press, Strange Attractor and various other commendable small publishers that do a beautiful job and that are producing books that are good to have on your bookshelf.”

Alan Moore discussing books old and new in a lengthy interview at Honest Publishing. In part two he takes to task hardboiled moron Frank Miller and offers his thoughts on the Occupy movement. Elsewhere the Guardian finally paid some attention to the importance of design in the book world. Some of us who do this for a living have been saying for years that if publishers want to see physical books thriving they need to maintain (or improve) the quality of their design and materials. Related: The Truth About Amazon Publishing, Laura Hazard Owen at paidContent examines some the figures behind Amazon’s PR.

• “Tenniel argued for several changes to the characters as conceived by Carroll. The croquet mallets are ostriches in the original drawings, and the hoops are footmen bent over with the tails of their coats hanging down over their bottoms like an animal’s. Tenniel left them out. He told the author that a girl might manage a flamingo, but not an ostrich.” Marina Warner again on John Tenniel, Lewis Carroll and the Alice books.

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Untitled painting by Christian Schoeler who was interviewed for a second time at East Village Boys.

Shamanism and the City: Psychedelic Spiritual Tourism Comes Home and Scientists finding new uses for hallucinogens and street drugs. Related: LSD – A Documentary Report (1966), “a totally new kind of record album”.

• More books: Interview with a Book Collector. Mark Valentine, author, biographer and editor was also the co-publisher in 1988 of my adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s The Haunter of the Dark.

• The Priapus Chandelier “features six hand-sculpted phalluses cast in translucent resin, which radiate an atmospheric light.”

Stewart Lee on Top Gear, in which the comedian and Dodgem Logic contributor eviscerates the BBC’s pet trolls.

• The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library put the Voynich Manuscript online.

• The 432-page SteamPunk Magazine collection with my cover art is now on sale.

Hubble, Bubble, Toil & Trouble: The Haxan Cloak Interviewed

• The Sunn O))) chapter of The Electric Drone by Gilles Paté.

Colonel Blimp: The masterpiece Churchill hated

Submergence (2006) by Greg Haines | Reyja (2011) by Ben Frost & Daníel Bjarnason | The Fall (2011) by The Haxan Cloak.

Weekend links 53

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Ancient Egyptian capitals from The Grammar of Ornament (1856) by Owen Jones at Egyptian Revival.

• Golden Age Comic Book Stories has been pulling out all the stops recently with entries for Will Bradley, Alphonse Mucha’s Documents Decoratifs (a companion volume to Combinaisons Ornementales), and pages from My Name is Paris (1987) illustrated by Michael Kaluta, an Art Nouveau-styled confection which features scenes from the Exposition Universelle of 1900. Related: Alphonse Mucha in high-resolution at Flickr.

The Sinking Of The Titanic by Gavin Bryars at Ubuweb, the first release on Brian Eno’s Obscure label in 1975. Bryars’ Titanic is an open composition which has subsequently been reworked and re-recorded as more information about the disaster has come to light. The accompanying piece on that album, Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, is the only version you need unless you want Tom Waits ruining the whole thing in the later recording.

• Hayley Campbell claims to have the worst CV in the world but she has a better way with words than most people with bad CVs. She’ll be giving a talk with Tim Pilcher entitled Sex, Death, Hell & Superheroes at The Last Tuesday Society, 11 Mare Street, Bethnal Green, London, on April 8th. Just don’t shout “Xena!” if you attend.

Monolake live at the Dis-Patch Festival Belgrade, Serbia, 2007; 75 minutes of thumping grooves. Related: A video by Richard De Suza using Monolake’s Watching Clouds as the soundtrack.

• “I preached against homosexuality, but I was wrong.” Related: Gay Cliques, a chart, and Sashay shantay épée at Strange Flowers, the last (?) duel with swords fought in France.

• Mixtapes of the week: Electronica from John Foxx and Benge at The Quietus, and Ben Frost mashing up early Metallica, Krzysztof Penderecki, and late Talk Talk for FACT.

• A 40 gigpixel panorama of the Strahov Philosophical Library, Prague, described by 360 Cities as the world’s largest indoor photo.

How Hollywood Butchered Its Best Movie Posters; Steven Heller on Saul Bass.

• Back issues of Coilhouse magazine are now available to buy in PDF form.

Absinthe minded: The ruin of bohemians is back in all the best bars.

Fade Into You (1993) by Mazzy Star.

New music and design

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A visit to Baked Goods distribution this week brought me a haul of new releases, all items I’ve either designed or overseen the production of. Among the new CD designs I’ve already mentioned the Tectonic Plates compilation, a really excellent collection of dubstep singles with a bonus disc of mixes by Pinch. Related to Tectonic’s Bristol underground is a compilation of singles from the Caravan label mixed by DJ October. I’ve put together the labels for Caravan’s vinyl over the past year and assisted with the layout of this, their first CD. The other new design (which I’ve yet to add to the site) is a collection of live improvisations by Mojo-tipped Liondialer (influences: Supersilent, Talk Talk, Ornette Coleman, Tony Conrad, Stars of the Lid, Jandek, Loren Connors, Ben Frost, Shearwater…), aka Greg Haines and Danny Saul. This is another release on the White Box label and was recorded, edited and sequenced by my good friend Gav whose knowledge of music esoterica has been drawn upon for previous posts here.

Also new: a clutch of recent vinyl (I really need to add a vinyl section to my pages), a Tectonic promo T-shirt (!), and two releases which I helped guide through the production process, Cloaks Versus Grain and The Sleeper by The Leisure Society, the latter being a very well-received release which was nominated earlier this year for an Ivor Novello award.

Meanwhile, there’s more book work turning up but I’ll talk about that when I’ve had a chance to further update the site.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Plates: Volume 2

Sam Amidon and Valgeir Sigurdsson in Manchester

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Sam and ensemble.

Bedroom Community, possibly the best label in the world right now” was my earnest declaration back in March after seeing Sam Amidon play for the first time. A few months earlier I’d put Valgeir Sigurðsson‘s Ekvílibríum album on my best of 2007 list for Arthur magazine. Tonight’s event at Trinity Church confirmed that judgement with another great performance of songs from All Is Well by Sam, followed by a set from his Icelandic composer/producer colleague. Support for the evening was from Manchester’s own Denis Jones and a display of his one-man house of cards conjuring with samples and guitar.

Sam Amidon’s set this time lacked some of the stunning impact of the earlier gig but that’s only because the thrill of seeing him for the first time can’t be repeated. If anything the performances were better this time round, not least because there were more string players there to do justice to Nico Muhly‘s marvellous arrangements; Little Satchel especially benefited. Valgeir Sigurðsson (who produced All Is Well) helped out in the background then Sam returned the favour for Valgeir’s set, including singing one of the songs from Ekvílibríum. This easy swapping of roles is one of the things which makes Bedroom Community such a fascinating label; Valgeir produces, everyone plays on everyone else’s albums. All the people involved (Nico Muhly and Ben Frost make up the creative quartet) are highly distinctive and bring a considerable authority to their work. Most of Valgeir’s set this evening was instrumental (there are four songs on the album) and I missed Dawn McCarthy’s vocal on Winter Sleep but the vocal-less rendition gave an opportunity to hear the breadth of the arrangement. The BC site credits the other Icelandic musicians as Una Sveinbjarnardóttir on violin/mandolin, Sigríður Sunna Reynisdóttir on accordion/electric piano and Rebekka Bryndís Björnsdóttir on bassoon/cello.

“Bedroom community” is a euphemism for a suburb or dormitory town, as well as (in the case of the label) a play on the idea of the bedroom musician. Ignore the usual negative connotations of suburbs and think of this community as being one away from the decaying centre and the increasingly desperate frenzy of the mainstream. Back in the late Seventies Robert Fripp was presciently declaring the age of the music dinosaurs over, saying “In the new world the characteristic unit will be small, highly mobile, independent and intelligent.” Bedroom Community, its artists and its ethos, is precisely what he was talking about. We need more like them.

Previously on { feuilleton }
God only knows
Sam Amidon in Manchester