Weekend links 133

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Lower Manhattan (1999) by Lebbeus Woods.

RIP Lebbeus Woods, an architect and illustrator frequently compared to Piranesi not only for his imagination and the quality of his renderings but also for the way both men built very little from a lifetime of designs. Lots of appreciations have appeared over the past few days including this lengthy piece by Geoff Manaugh at BLDGBLOG. (Geoff interviewed Woods in 2007.) Elsewhere: A slideshow at the NYT, Steven Holl remembers Lebbeus Woods and Lebbeus Woods, visionary architect of imaginary worlds. See also: Lebbeus Woods: Early Drawings and this post about Woods’ illustrations for an Arthur C Clarke story collection. Woods was at his most Piranesian with Gothic designs for an artificial planet that would have been the principal location in Vincent Ward’s unmade Alien 3.

Arkhonia draws to the end of a year of blogging about and around the Beach Boys’ errant masterwork, Smile (1967). Witty, discursive and frequently scabrous accounts of how Brian Wilson’s magnum opus was derailed and marginalised until it became convenient for commercial interests to exploit its reputation. Anyone following those posts won’t have been surprised by Wilson’s sacking from his own group by Mike Love in September.

• “We’ve been underground for 27 hours now. Everyone is caked in mud, with grit in their hair.” Will Hunt explores the catacombs and sewers of Paris.

I think the only remotely interesting drug was acid. I had a slightly peculiar attitude towards it I think. Just about everything about hippydom I hated. I liked the 60s up to about ’65 or ’66. I liked the mod clothes, I liked the look. I wasn’t a keen taker of speed because I didn’t like the comedown from it. Then everything changed and became looser, I didn’t like the clothes at all. I felt rather out of step with it. The acid thing was interesting though. I come from Salisbury and from the age of 12 I had a friend who was 30 years older than I was who I saw regularly up until when he died a couple of years ago, whose obituary I wrote in The Times. This man was called Ken James and he was deputy head at the chemical warfare unit at Porton Down [the MOD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory]. He then became head of the scientific civil service; he was the man who introduced computing into the civil service and he had taken acid as early as 1950. This was long before Aldous Huxley.

Sharp Suits And Sparkle: Jonathan Meades On Acid, Space And Place by John Doran. Marvellous stuff. Meades’ new book is Museum Without Walls.

• In New York later this month: A Cathode Ray Séance – The Haunted Worlds of Nigel Kneale.

• More acid: Kerri Smith talks to Oliver Sacks about his drug experiences.

• “It starts with an itch”: Alan Bennett (again) on his new play, People.

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Lower Manhattan last Wednesday. Photo by Iwan Baan.

• Back issues of OMNI magazine can now be found at the Internet Archive.

• Alan Moore & Mitch Jenkins present their new film, Jimmy’s End.

• At BibliOdyssey: Atlas title pages part one & part two.

• Raw Functionality: An interview with Emptyset.

Athanasius, Underground

Vintage Caza

Stormy Weather (1979) by Elisabeth Welch.

Weekend links 76

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Despite appearances I’m still doing bits of design and layout work for various musicians. In the past week I’ve been trying to reorganise this sprawling website a little so it’s easier to add new work quickly and easily. One recent job was more layout than design, a CD and vinyl package for a Roly Porter collection of instrumentals entitled Aftertime. Each track on the album is named after a different planet from Frank Herbert’s Dune books although the music isn’t as illustrative as that implies. Porter’s use of an Ondes Martenot and various acoustic instruments which he subjects to degrees of distortion is just the kind of thing I like hearing. One track can be heard at FACT where Porter is interviewed about his work. Aftertime is released this month on the Subtext label.

It is a rollicking saga that involves all sorts of things not normally associated with think tanks – chickens, pirate radio, retired colonels, Jean-Paul Sartre, Screaming Lord Sutch, and at its heart is a dramatic and brutal killing committed by one of the very men who helped bring about the resurgence of the free market in Britain.

Adam Curtis on the strange history of Britain’s think tanks and their hidden agendas.

• Other assorted music business: Getting down to the Cabinessence: “This is the first of what may become an intermittent series of observations about Smile, and how Brian Wilson tried to put his dream on this planet.” | After The Flood: Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock 20-Years On: a lengthy and detailed Quietus piece on one of the best albums of the 1990s. | Jonathan Barnbrook uses an old analogue video synth to create a visual accompaniment for Interplay by John Foxx & The Maths. The HD version is an eye-searing delight.

Meredith Yayanos favours the sister instrument of the Ondes Martenot, the theremin, which she uses to provide a spooky score for a new film, Empty Rooms. There’s more spectral ambience at her SoundCloud page.

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A Jules Verne cover by Carlo Giovani for Editora Ática.

• Sculptor and writer Josiah McElheny transforms the Whitechapel Gallery into a hall of mirrors.

Jacob’s Lament, an animated collaboration between illustrator Ian Miller and Stijn Windig.

Pornographic Poem (1967) by John Giorno.

Oscar Wilde grandson scorns “new” play.

• Manhattan in marble by Yutaka Sone.

Paul Atreides pt. 1 (1978) by Richard Pinhas | Harkonnen (1979) by Zed (Bernard Szajner) | Prophecy Theme (1984) by Brian Eno.

Jake Shears likes Van Dyke Parks

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From ‘Music’s secret weapons‘ in today’s Guardian. Musicians pick “their special album: the one nobody else has heard of, the one to bring out when you want to amaze people” and trot out a host of uninspiring choices, most of which are hardly albums that no one has heard of. Tells you a lot about today’s current crop of musos. Anyway, Jake came to the rescue and he didn’t go for the obvious VDP pick of Discover America either. If you want to discover more about the brilliant Van Dyke Parks, visit his site.

Jake Shears
(No 1 in the albums and singles charts with Scissor Sisters)
Van Dyke Parks – Jump! (1984)
It’s his concept album inspired by the Uncle Remus tales from Song of the South. He’s a genius arranger, producer, singer, songwriter. He also worked on Brian Wilson’s Smile. Jump! is a truly timeless record. It came out in 1984 but sounds like it could have been made yesterday or 80 years ago.

Previously on { feuilleton }
They are Scissor Sisters and so are you

Queer Noises

queer_noises.jpgBeyond Bowie and Frankie, there’s a whole secret history of gay pop, reports Alexis Petridis

‘Wilder, madder, gayer than a Beatle’s hairdo’

It was the love that dare not sing its name—or was it? Beyond Bowie and Frankie, there’s a whole secret history of gay pop, reports Alexis Petridis

Tuesday July 4, 2006
The Guardian

The year 1966 is known as rock’s annus mirabilis. It was the year the right musicians found the right technology and the right drugs to catapult pop into hitherto unimagined realms of invention and sophistication: the year of the Beatles’ Revolver, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. But the most astonishing record of 1966 did not emanate from the unbounded imagination of Brian Wilson, or from an Abbey Road studio wreathed in pot smoke. Instead, it was the work of hapless instrumental combo the Tornados.

By 1966, the Tornados’ moment of glory—with 1962 number one Telstar—had long passed; they hadn’t had a hit in three years and every original member had departed. The single they released that year, Is That a Ship I Hear?, was their last. Tucked away on its B-side, the track Do You Come Here Often? attracted no attention, which was probably just as well. A year before the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, the Tornados’ producer, Joe Meek, had taken it upon himself to record and release Britain’s first explicitly gay rock song, apparently undaunted by his own conviction for cottaging in 1963.

Continue reading “Queer Noises”