Weekend links 290

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The Royal Mint celebrates 400 years of William Shakespeare with new £2 coins. The “Tragedies” design gives Britain the Gothiest coin of all time.

• “I hate successful films that travel on an easy wave of ‘good taste’: for me, that is simply anti-culture.” Cinematographer Luciano Tovoli talks to Alexandra Heller-Nicholas about photographing Dario Argento’s masterwork, Suspiria.

• Mixes of the week: Für die Liebe II, an hour of ambient drift by Matthew Dekay, and Carwyn Ellis Mixtape No. 354 by The Voice Of Cassandre.

• Americans in Europe: Frances Mayes on the enduring mystique of the Venetian lagoon, and David Farley on the trail of Kafka in Prague.

“We’d read that Brion Gysin and William Burroughs had played around with some scientific equipment from Columbia University,” [Jim] Jarmusch recalls. It was “some kind of strobe light that they claimed, by placing eidetic pulses on the outside of your eyelids, could cause states of hallucination and trance. We found out how to check out this machine and experimented with … not fantastic results! In a way though, Luc [Sante] channels ghosts: he’s able to imagine and mentally reconstruct events and places from the past and weave them into stories. He can cross influences like Blaise Cendrars and JG Ballard with James M Cain and Raymond Roussel.”

[…]

If New York celebrates amnesia, perpetual transformation, accelerated obsolescence – and offers newcomers a blank slate, a chance to be born again – then Sante offers a mordantly heretical vision of the city. For him it’s full of layers and depths, of echoes and eerie reverberations, of occult whispers. “The tech crowd thinks that we can’t afford the past to be sitting on our shoulders. It’s a burden, a dead weight. We’ve got to innovate constantly. We have to … disrupt. But the 20th century is littered with valuable stuff – writers, ideas, daily certainties – that gets discarded and that needs to be picked up and looked at again.”

Sukhdev Sandhu profiles writer Luc Sante

The Edge Question for 2016: What do you consider the most interesting recent (scientific) news? What makes it important?

Bradley L. Garrett’s foreword for Secret Tunnels of England: Folklore and Fact (2015), a book by Antony Clayton.

Caitlin R. Green on the monstrous landscape of medieval Lincolnshire.

Mistaken Memories of Mediaeval Manhattan by Brian Eno.

Arche (live, 2013) by Master Musicians of Bukkake.

A Year In The Country returns for another year.

Kafka (1982) by Masami Tsuchiya | Manhattan (1984) by Seigen Ono | Tunnel (1997) by Biosphere

Brion Gysin record covers

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Shots (1977) by Steve Lacy.

Continuing an occasional series about artists or designers whose work has been used on record sleeves. The life and work of Brion Gysin (1916–1986) is the subject of a new exhibition, Unseen Collaborator, that opened last week at October Gallery, London. The gallery page mentions Gysin’s connections to the music world: among other things, it was Gysin’s enthusiasm for the Master Musicians of Jajouka that gave those people and their music global prominence, with a little help from Brian Jones. But there are other connections, whether as a collaborator with Steve Lacy, or as a decorator of album covers. Some of these uses are posthumous but this small collection includes a few releases I’d not come across before.

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Troubles (1979) by The Steve Lacy Quintet.

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Orgy Boys (1982) by Brion Gysin.

A 12-inch single with Gysin reading from William Burroughs and his own writings. “Songs dedicated to his orgy pals: William S. Burroughs, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Fafa de Palaminy, Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg and John Giorno…”

Continue reading “Brion Gysin record covers”

Tuxedomoon: some queer connections

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UK poster insert by Patrick Roques for Desire (1981).

Yes, more Tuxedomoon: there’s a lot to explore. It’s always a pleasure when something that you enjoy one medium connects to things that interest you elsewhere. From the outset Tuxedomoon have had more than their share of connections to gay culture—to writers especially—but it’s more of an ongoing conversation than any kind of proselytising concern. This post teases out those connections some of which I hadn’t spotted myself until I started delving deeper.

The Angels of Light: Not the Michael Gira group but an earlier band of musicians and performers in San Francisco in the early 1970s. The Angels of Light formed out of performance troupe The Cockettes following a split between those who wanted to charge admission for their shows, and those who wanted to keep things free to all. Among the troupe there was Steven Brown, soon to be a founding member of Tuxedomoon:

The group began as an offshoot of The Angels of Light, ‘a “family” of dedicated artists who sang, danced, painted and sewed for the Free Theater’, says Steve Brown. ‘I was lucky to be part of the Angels—I fell for a bearded transvestite in the show and moved in with him at the Angels’ commune. Gay or bi men and women who were themselves works of art, extravagant in dress and behaviour, disciples of Artaud and Wilde and Julian Beck [of the Living Theater] … we lived together in a big Victorian house … pooled all our disability cheques each month, ate communally … and used the rest of the funds to produce lavish theatrical productions—never charging a dime to the public. This is what theatre was meant to be: a Dionysian rite of lights and music and chaos and Eros.’

Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 by Simon Reynolds

(Special Treatment For The) Family Man (1979): A sombre commentary from the Scream With A View EP on the trial of Dan White, the assassin of Harvey Milk and George Moscone. White’s “special treatment” in court led to a conviction for manslaughter which in turn resulted in San Francisco’s White Night riots in May, 1979.

James Whale (1980): An instrumental on the first Tuxedomoon album, Half-Mute, all sinister electronics and tolling bells as befits a piece named after a director of horror films. Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is not only the best of the Universal horror series, it’s also commonly regarded as a subversive examination of marriage and the creation of life from a gay perspective. (Whale’s friends and partner disagreed, however.)

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Cover art by Winston Tong.

Joeboy San Francisco (1981): The Joeboy name was lifted from a piece of San Francisco graffiti to become a name for Tuxedomoon’s DIY philosophy. It’s also a record label name, the name of an early single, and a side project of the group which in 1981 produced Joeboy In Rotterdam / Joeboy San Francisco. The SF side features a collage piece by Winston Tong based on The Wild Boys by William Burroughs, a key inspiration for the band which first surfaces here.

In one piece, the band cites its influences as: “burroughs, bowie, camus, cage, eno, moroder”. Can you say what you admired or drew on vis-à-vis these artists?

William S. Burroughs — ideas concerning use of media — tapes, projections, his radical anti-control politic in general as well as his outspoken gayness. Early on we duplicated on stage one of his early experiments projecting films of faces onto faces.

Simon Reynolds interview with Steven Brown

Continue reading “Tuxedomoon: some queer connections”

Nova Express, a film by Andre Perkowski

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Andre Perkowski’s Nova Express describes itself as “a 3-hour experimental epic adaptation of the novel by William S. Burroughs… with Allen Ginsberg, Brion Gysin, Phil Proctor, Peter Bergman, Jürgen Ploog, and Anne Waldeman”. The technique is relatively simple, if laborious: a large quantity of copyright-free film & TV footage, animation and visual material is matched to readings of Burroughs’s novel by the author and others. As far as this goes it’s an interesting answer to the question of filming Burroughs’ early works. Ideally this kind of juxtaposition of word and image should create something which isn’t present when word and image are separated, rather than simply operate on the level of what animator Chuck Jones once called “illustrated radio”. The clips on YouTube veer between these two poles. Notable by its absence is this kind of thing:

The naked cadets entered a warehouse of metal – lined cubicles – stood a few inches apart laughing and talking on many levels – Blue light played over their bodies – Projectors flashed the color writing of Hassan i Sabbah on bodies and metal walls – Opened into amusement gardens – Sex Equilibrists perform on tightropes and balancing chairs – Trapeze acts ejaculate in the air – The Sodomite Tumblers doing cartwheels and whirling dances stuck together like dogs – Boys masturbate from scenic railways – Flower floats in the lagoons and canals – Sex cubicles where the acts performed to music project on the tent ceiling a sky of rhythmic copulation – Vast flicker cylinders and projectors sweep the gardens writing explosive bio-advance to neon – Areas of sandwich booths blue movie parlors and transient hotels under ferris wheels and scenic railways – soft water sounds and frogs from the canals  – K9 stood opposite a boy from Norway felt the prickling blue light on his genitals filling with blood touched the other tip and a warm shock went down his spine and he came in spasms of light – Silver writing burst in his brain and went out with a smell of burning metal in empty intersections where boys on roller skates turn slow circles and weeds grow through cracked pavement –

Nova Express isn’t as homoerotic as the other books from this period but the whole of the Smorbrot chapter runs like that, and there are other moments elsewhere. (I should note that there’s no Smorbrot section in the available clips but I expect there will be in the complete film.) This side of Burroughs’ work is still the least represented where adaptations are concerned. Ignore it and you’re ignoring a major component of his fiction. Andre Perkowski talked to Graham Rae at Reality Studio in 2010.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Decoder, a film by Jürgen Muschalek
The Burroughs Century
Interzone: A William Burroughs Mix
Sine Fiction
The Ticket That Exploded: An Ongoing Opera
Burroughs: The Movie revisited
Zimbu Xolotl Time
Ah Pook Is Here
Jarek Piotrowski’s Soft Machine
Looking for the Wild Boys
Wroblewski covers Burroughs
Mugwump jism
Brion Gysin’s walk, 1966
Burroughs in Paris
William Burroughs interviews
Soft machines
Burroughs: The Movie
William S Burroughs: A Man Within
The Final Academy
William Burroughs book covers
Towers Open Fire

Weekend links 155

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Poster design by Mishka Westell for this month’s Austin Psych Fest. Billy Gibbons’ pre-ZZ Top psychedelic outfit, The Moving Sidewalks, surprised everyone by reforming for a New York gig last month, their first performance together in 44 years.

• Pye Corner Audio played the Boiler Room, London, last week, and remixed a track from FC Judd’s Electronics Without Tears. Also on the latter is Chris Carter who talks about his own remix (and the “Radiophonic” Mr Judd) here.

Tom Bianchi’s Fire Island Pines, Polaroids of New York’s gay enclave from 1975–1983. Related: In Conversation with the Violet Quill: Andrew Holleran, Felice Picano, and Edmund White.

• From 2011: Sex, prison and lost ligatures: The story of Herb Lubalin’s Avant Garde typeface. Related: The ITC Avant Garde Gothic group at Flickr.

• Music reissues: Tape Works 1981–1982 by Laughing Hands is out now, and Scott Walker’s early solo albums will be reissued in the summer.

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Drugs and the Mind (ii), a cover design from 1957 by Eric Fraser (1902–1983) whose illustrations and designs are in exhibition at the Chris Beetles gallery, London.

• At Ubuweb: William S. Burroughs + Brion Gysin + Genesis P-Orridge – Cold Spring Tape (1989).

The World According to John Coltrane, an hour-long documentary.

Neko Font: for when you need a word made of cats.

Fuck yeah, Sarah Bernhardt

Sordid Spheres!

99th Floor (1967) by The Moving Sidewalks | Over Fire Island (1975) by Brian Eno | Ledge (1980) by Laughing Hands