Weekend links 506

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• The late David Roback was a musician who would have been called “enigmatic” for his refusal of the interview treadmill, preferring instead to let his music speak for itself. I wouldn’t label myself a “fan” (a word I dislike at the best of times) but over the years I’ve collected just about everything that Roback was involved in, from the early Rain Parade albums (he co-wrote my favourite song of theirs, No Easy Way Down), to Opal (his collaboration with Kendra Smith and others), and Mazzy Star (with Hope Sandoval), the group whose songs perfected the somnolent blend of blues, country and rock that Roback had been aiming at all along. Some concerts:

Mazzy Star, The Black Sessions, Maison De La Radio, Paris, October 25, 1993
Mazzy Star at the The Metro, Chicago, November 12, 1994
Mazzy Star, KROQ Radio, Los Angeles, December 10, 1994

• “Like other early-modern architects, Lequeu’s drawings explore analogies between bodies and buildings and the erotic, multisensory dimensions of architectural design. In his annotations, he often describes in compulsive detail not only how buildings look but also how they feel, smell, and even taste.” Meredith Martin on the architecture of Jean-Jacques Lequeu.

• “She talks avidly about using pigs’ heads, plastic doll parts, fake blood, and real blood, recollecting with relish a performance where she transformed into a Statue of Liberty that projectile-vomited gore onto the audience…” Geeta Dayal on the performance art of Johanna Went.

Schütte teases out the many ambiguities in these concepts: trains, autobahns, radioactivity, men-machines. All have distinct negative connotations within Germany in particular. Yet Kraftwerk proposed a positive view. Their rigorous determination to deny autobiography forced listeners to focus on the ideas and the music, where apparent contradictions—local/global,  human/machine, past/future—were resolved in a sparkling, crystal-clear sound-world. This was not submission but interaction: as they said, “we are playing the machines, the machines play us”.

Jon Savage reviews Kraftwerk by Uwe Schütte

• “…it was clear that Miles wasn’t sure what he wanted…but he knew what he didn’t want. He didn’t want anything like what he had done before.” John McLaughlin on the recording of Bitches Brew by Miles Davis.

• “His panels are littered with figures standing on the edge of crowds, watching.” Toby Ferris on the paintings of Pieter Bruegel.

Alex Barrett on 100 years of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

A Boy Called Conjuror by Teleplasmiste.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Fires.

Smithsonian Open Access

• Picture P. Brueghel “Winter” / Solaris (1972) by Edward Artemyev | The Dream Dance Of Jane And The Somnambulist (1981) by Bill Nelson | St. Elmo’s Fire (1998) by Uilab

Weekend links 487

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Art by Joe Mugnaini (1955).

• Mixes of the week: The Ivy-Strangled Path Vol. XIX by David Colohan, and The Ephemeral Man’s Teapot 2—Atmosphere insomniac by The Ephemeral Man.

• Patrick Clarke talks to Morton Subotnick and Lillevan about Subotnick’s pioneering synthesizer composition, Silver Apples Of The Moon (1967).

• A second volume of London’s Lost Rivers, a walker’s guide by Tom Bolton with photography by SF Said, is published by Strange Attractor next month.

“That country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.”

Ray Bradbury quoted by Sam Weller in an examination of Bradbury’s dark tales and autumnal horror stories

Lumberjacks In Heat is 11 minutes of music from Mechanical Fantasy Box by Patrick Cowley, the latest Cowley collection from Dark Entries.

They Poured Out Their Light Until Only Darkness Remained: new eldritch vibrations from The Wyrding Module.

• Carmen Villain on the magic of Jon Hassell’s Aka / Darbari / Java: Magic Realism.

• An Evil Medium: Elizabeth Horkley on the films of Kenneth Anger.

• Cosmic gardens and boulder boulevards by Charles Jencks.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Murray Melvin Day.

Richard Dawson‘s favourite music.

• RIP John Giorno.

My Girlfriend Is A Witch (1968) by October Country | The October Man (1982) by Bill Nelson | Late October (1984) by Harold Budd

Weekend links 466

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The Simulator (1936) by Dora Maar.

• Surprise of the week for me was the discovery of a new album, Kshatrya – The Eye Of The Bird, by cult French composer Igor Wakhévitch. This had been out for a while but I’d managed to miss the announcements. The music was recorded in 1999 so isn’t exactly new but it’s the first new Wakhévitch release (as opposed to a reissue or compilation) since Let’s Start in 1979. Very good it is too, almost completely electronic but not as discordant as his synth-dominated Hathor album.

• “Popol Vuh is a Mass for the heart.” Gerhard Augustin talks to Florian Fricke about Popol Vuh’s music in a “rare” (lost? previously unseen?) interview. Undated but the City Raga album is referred to as a recent release so it’s probably around 1995.

Brian Dillon on the voraciousness and oddity of Dora Maar’s pictures. Related: Rick Poynor on The Simulator by Dora Maar.

The Secret Ceremonies: Critical Essays on Arthur Machen, edited by Mark Valentine and Timothy J. Jarvis.

Juliette Goodrich on the tale of the Buchla synthesizer, the repair engineer, and a dormant drop of LSD.

Scott Tobias on Midnight Cowboy at 50: why the X-rated best picture winner endures.

• A Hidden History of Women and Psychedelics by Mariavittoria Mangini.

• Previews of Chords, the new album by composer Ellen Arkbro.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 290 by Mark Stewart.

• “Somehow I became respectable,” says John Waters.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Walerian Borowczyk Day.

• The Bandcamp Guide to Earth.

Gén #1 by Ray Kunimoto.

Secret Ceremony (Theme From Brond) (1987) by Scala (Bill Nelson & Daryl Runswick) | Healing Ceremony (1990) by African Head Charge | Ceremony Behind Screens (1995) by David Toop

Weekend links 380

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Night Out, Shibuya, a photograph by Yoshito Hasaka. One of a remarkable series.

• Rixdorf Editions is a new publishing venture from Strange Flowers’ James Conway which “…aims to cast light on an era which is misunderstood to the extent that it is thought of at all. I speak of the German Empire, specifically the Wilhelmine period from 1890 to 1918.” The first two titles, both translated by Conway himself, are Berlin’s Third Sex (1904), a study of the city’s queer demi monde by the pioneering Magnus Hirschfeld; and The Guesthouse at the Sign of the Teetering Globe (1917), a collection of strange stories by Franziska zu Reventlow.

• Patrick McGoohan’s enigmatic TV series, The Prisoner, premiered 50 years ago this week. Among the series’ many stylistic hallmarks was the use of Berthold Wolpe’s Albertus typeface, as detailed at We Made This.

• Three of Bill Nelson’s home-produced instrumental albums from the 1980s—Sounding The Ritual Echo, Das Kabinet, and La Belle Et La Bête—are reissued in November.

Photos by Heinrich Klaffs of German group Faust performing live (for the first time?) in 1971. Klaffs’ other photos are worth looking at as well.

• Mixes of the week: XLR8R Podcast 509 by Laylla Dane, and Secret Thirteen Mix 231 by New Hip Tiki Scene.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Altered landscapes meticulously rendered in pencil by Shinji Ogawa.

• “Why are UK and US book jackets often so different?”asks Danuta Kean.

Samantha Manzella on eight of the world’s remaining gay bookstores.

• At greydogtales: F. Marion Crawford & the Screaming Skull.

Tunnel View, a previously unheard demo by Broadcast.

Zealandia: Earth’s Hidden Continent

Seeland (1975) by Neu! | Neu Seeland (1992) by Terminal Cheesecake | Osprey’s Odyssey (2010) by Seeland

Weekend links 211

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Secret Bloom (2014) by Natalie Shau.

Bloomsday approachs. “Reading Ulysses changed everything I thought about language, and everything I understood about what a book could do,” says Eimear McBride whose debut novel, A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing, recently won the first Bailey’s women’s prize for fiction. McBride was interviewed by Susanna Rustin last month, shortly before the award was announced, and her novel has now become one of those minor causes célèbres for being rejected so often it was eventually published by a new imprint set up by a bookseller. “If the publishing industry doesn’t take a risk then who will?” asks Henry Layte, the bookseller in question.

Speaking of risk, David Hebblethwaite coincidentally wrote a post earlier this week asking where the formal challenge has gone in science-fiction writing. (He mentions McBride in passing.) Nina Allen followed up with a post of her own. I suspect the books are still being written but they’re no longer being accepted by editors and publishers who want even more adventure stories, “sympathetic” characters, and easy reads. Novels that only aspire to be written equivalents of action films or computer games are doomed to be less exciting than their more kinetic competitors. The struggle between the values of art and the values of entertainment is an old one but it shouldn’t be an either/or proposition. “Difficulty is subjective,” says Eimear McBride, “the demands a writer makes on a reader can be perceived as a compliment.”

Related: the following from Geoffrey Hill on “difficulty”:

We are difficult. Human beings are difficult. We’re difficult to ourselves, we’re difficult to each other. And we are mysteries to ourselves, we are mysteries to each other. One encounters in any ordinary day far more real difficulty than one confronts in the most “intellectual” piece of work.

• The Quietus pulled out all the stops this week, interviewing Annette Peacock, Iain Sinclair (again), Alan Moore (again), and asking Peter Strickland, the director of Berberian Sound Studio, for a list of his favourite albums. Given the above, it’s worth noting that all those people have produced challenging work of their own in different media.

• “The Satyrs Motorcycle Club was founded in 1954 with seven members, but little did anyone know it would become the oldest running LGBT organization (and oldest gay motorcycle club) in the world.”

Trunk TV posted another great selection of television title sequences. The previous selection has been taken down for the usual tiresome copyright reasons so watch this one while you can.

• “Detroit techno and black metal have so much in common,” say Wolves In The Throne Room whose new album, Celestite, is predominantly a product of synthesizer technology.

• “Houghton Library’s copy of Arsène Houssaye’s Des destinées de l’ame (FC8.H8177.879dc) is without a doubt bound in human skin.”

• The secret of Nabokov’s sexual style: David Lodge reviews Nabokov’s Eros and the Poetics of Desire by Maurice Couturier.

• How long can you hold your breath? 2 models, 7 divers in an underwater shipwreck by photographer Von Wong.

• At Dangerous Minds: Paul Gallagher on The fantastic world of Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre.

• Wizards of the Coast: Benjamin Breen on John Dee and the occult in California.

• More photography: Peter Guenzel captures strange lights in forests.

• Mix of the week: Bleep podcast 121 presented by Margot Didsbury.

I’m The One (1972) by Annette Peacock | Eros Arriving (1982) by Bill Nelson | The Dire And Ever Circling Wolves (2005) by Earth