Weekend links 492

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Cover art by Gahan Wilson for Monster (1980) by Herbie Hancock.

• RIP Gahan Wilson, a great cartoonist with a flair for horror, the macabre and grotesque. Many of his best cartoons are buried in back issues of The New Yorker, Playboy and National Lampoon but book collections of his work are worth seeking out. He also wrote regularly, and for several years was a film reviewer and columnist for The Twilight Zone Magazine, back issues of which may be found at the Internet Archive. Related: Gahan Wilson and the Comedy of the Weird, an interview with Wilson by Richard Gehr; The Beautifully Macabre Cartoons of Gahan Wilson by Michael Maslin.

• The Unanswered Question: Irmin Schmidt, the last surviving member of Can, interviewed by Duncan Seaman. The conversation is mostly about his solo work but he also mentions plans to release a collection of live Can recordings next year.

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970), the Surrealist fable directed by Jaromil Jires, receives a welcome region-free blu-ray release by Second Run in January.

At its best, the true psychedelic experience is an analogue of psychotherapy: you are encouraged to lean in to something potentially rupturing or even disturbing, in an attempt to achieve deep personal resolution rather than simply mind-scrambling hedonism or entertainment (which, to be fair, the group can provide as well). […] Despite clear and longstanding links with the extreme worlds of black metal, power electronics, industrial, sludge metal and doom, Sunn O))) have created a space that now stands beyond any obvious scene signifiers. This zone of pure affect—and what they hope will be a healing experience—is welcome to all.

John Doran on the vibrational power of Sunn O)))

Neuland is an electronic collaboration by two ex-members of Tangerine Dream, Peter Baumann and Paul Haslinger.

• Flying teapots and electric Camembert: the story of Gong, prog’s trippiest band by Simon Reynolds.

• Conversations with Ursula: Clive Hicks-Jenkins answers some questions about his art.

• Mix of the week: Test Transmission Archive Reel 38 by Keith Seatman.

• Limitation of Life: Tim Pelan on John Frankenheimer’s Seconds.

Anthony Madrid on the most famous coin in Borges.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Jacques Tati Day.

Dutch Graphic Roots

The Magic Yard (1970) by Lubos Fiser | Valerie (2003) by Broadcast | Introduction (2007) by The Valerie Project

Peter Strickland’s Stone Tape

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My annual Halloween post breaks with its usual music mix/playlist format this year for a recording of The Stone Tape, Peter Strickland’s hour-long radio drama made for Halloween in 2015. This was an adaptation, co-written with Matthew Graham, of Nigel Kneale’s celebrated TV play of the same name, first broadcast in 1972 for the BBC’s Christmas ghost-story slot then unavailable for many years. The combination of Kneale’s name and the impossibility of easily seeing the play gave The Stone Tape a reputation somewhat greater than it might otherwise have warranted. The drama has a number of shortcomings by contemporary standards: the whole thing is shot on video, so it compares unfavourably to the ghost films the BBC were making throughout the 1970s, and the acting is also quite histrionic in places. On the plus side there’s a woman scientist as the central character (an excellent performance by Jane Asher), and another of Kneale’s examinations of a horror staple—the haunted house, in this case—which adeptly twists your expectations while combining science and the supernatural in equal measure.

Strickland’s adaptation uses the same scenario—struggling electronics company moves into a house with a haunted reputation—but with the events moved slightly forward to 1979. The director’s fondness for electronic music shifts the emphasis of the story to the capabilities of electronic sound, both its destructive potential and its use as a diagnostic tool. James Cargill, formerly of Broadcast, now in Children Of Alice, was the soundtrack composer on Strickland’s second feature film, Berberian Sound Studio, and here creates the music and electronic sounds. The radio play is closer to Berberian Sound Studio than anything else Strickland has done to date, and could even be regarded as a companion piece with its recording equipment and repeated screams. (Eugenia Caruso provides screams for both.) As with the film, two thirds into the drama the narrative becomes much more diffuse and fragmented; the recording medium itself is foregrounded for a lengthy sequence that works like an audio equivalent of found-footage horror films. The hazard of this is that the layered nature of Kneale’s horrors may not be so apparent if you’ve not seen the TV version (I can’t say) but the sound design is excellent throughout, and benefits from the use of headphones to appreciate its subtleties. There’s also some sly reference to Alvin Lucier if you’re familiar with his compositions. Jane Asher makes a cameo appearance as the mother of the character she portrayed in the TV version.

The Stone Tape may be listened to or downloaded here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Nigel Kneale’s Woman in Black
Stone Tapes and Quatermasses
Nigel Kneale’s Nineteen Eighty-Four
The Stone Tape

Weekend links 484

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Alien Technology (2014) by Monira Al Qadiri.

• “William S. Burroughs wrote, in a long, zigzag ode: ‘You can hear metal think in the electromagnetic fields of Takis sculpture.'” Geeta Dayal on the sound sculptures of the late Panayiotis Vassilakis (1925–2019), better known as Takis.

• “Everything about this song is mysterious, from the creation to the lyrics to where it played on the radio…” David Browne on The Unsolved Case of the Most Mysterious Song on the Internet.

Moebius made many illustrations of Jimi Hendrix. Related: Giraud-Moebius pour le disque: 33 tours et plus dans les étoiles.

• London arts venue the Horse Hospital (where some of my work was exhibited a couple of years ago) is fundraising again.

• Sam Gafford: Number One—The Larch: John Linwood Grant remembers the late author, editor and friend.

• Mixes of the week: Cosmique Français by Tarotplane, and Secret Thirteen Mix 297 by Rosa Damask.

• More Magma: the group in live performance in 2009 playing the end of De Futura.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: The Horror Films of Terence Fisher Day.

Pye Corner Audio performs at the state51 Factory.

• A demo of Colour Me In by Broadcast.

• RIP Malcolm Whitehead.

• Alien Activity From The 45th Parallel (1978) by Cellutron & The Invisible | Alien (1981) by Ende Shneafliet | Alien Loop (2014) by Mica Levi

Weekend links 405

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Taro Okamoto’s Tower of the Sun on the cover of an Expo ’70 guide.

• Last week I was watching the restored print of Howard Brookner’s excellent William Burroughs documentary, Burroughs. Among the later scenes are shots of the writer visiting Britain in the autumn of 1982 for the Final Academy events, a visit also recorded on Super-8 by Derek Jarman, and by the video cameras of the Haçienda nightclub at a reading I was fortunate to attend. Included in the Brookner film are brief snatches of an interview with Burroughs for BBC Radio 1 by John Peel’s producer, John Walters, something I missed when it was first broadcast.

• Taro Okamoto’s Tower of the Sun was built in Osaka for Expo ’70, and unlike many one-off expo buildings has managed to survive years of neglect and threats of demolition. Visitors to the Tower may now explore the restored “Tree of Life” interior, although places are limited so it’s necessary to book in advance. Related: Expo ’70 at ExpoMuseum, and Tower Of The Sun (1997) by Shonen Knife.

• Also at Dangerous Minds this week: a 1969 TV recording of Krzysztof Penderecki’s notorious The Devils of Loudon, an opera based on the same Aldous Huxley book as Ken Russell’s The Devils, and which includes (among other things) a singing nun enduring a forced enema.

• The new Cavern Of Anti-Matter album, Hormone Lemonade, is released this week. XLR8R has a preview. Related: an old/undated mix by Tim Gane for The Brain radio show here.

Milton Glaser on some of his favourite posters. Milton Glaser Posters, a book collecting 427 poster designs, is published this week by Abrams.

• The Ghosts of Empty Moments: Christopher Burke reviews M. John Harrison’s You Should Come with Me Now.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 644 by Susanna, and XLR8R Podcast 534 by Pär Grindvik.

Emily Temple found 25 of the most expensive books you can buy on the internet.

Towers Of Dub (1992) The Orb | Tower Of Our Tuning (2001) by Broadcast | Television Tower (2001) by Monolake

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