VadeMecum by the Brothers Quay

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After mentioning the Brothers Quay last week it occurred to me that I hadn’t searched around for a while to see what they might have been up to recently. They continue to be productive, and only a couple of months ago released a new 12-minute short, VadeMecum, which was produced for the Polish Book Institute. This is the Quays in their documentary mode, presenting the troubled life of Polish poet and artist Cyprian Kamil Norwid, together with extracts from his poetry and examples of his drawings. Norwid’s existence was news to me so the piece successfully achieved its goal of informing the unenlightened. Last month the brothers talked to Mikolaj Glinski at Culture.pl about their fascination with Polish art and literature.

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Meanwhile, the Quays are no doubt continuing to work on their third feature film, Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, in which they return to the writings of Bruno Schulz. Schulz’s story collection was adapted by Wojciech Has in 1973 as The Hourglass Sanatorium, a film I recommend most highly. The quality of the Quays version may be judged by this six-minute preview which immediately sets itself apart from the Has film with its puppets modelled on Schulz’s illustrations. I’ll be waiting impatiently for this one.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges
Punch and Judy, Michel de Ghelderode, and the Brothers Quay
The mystery of trams
Inner Sanctums—Quay Brothers: The Collected Animated Films 1979–2013
Holzmüller and the Quays
Unmistaken Hands: Ex Voto F.H., a film by the Brothers Quay
Animation Magazine: The Brothers Quay
The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer, a film by the Brothers Quay
More Brothers Quay scarcities
Eurydice…She, So Beloved, a film by the Brothers Quay
Inventorium of Traces, a film by the Brothers Quay
Maska: Stanislaw Lem and the Brothers Quay
Stille Nacht V: Dog Door
Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets
Brothers Quay scarcities
Crossed destinies revisited
Crossed destinies: when the Quays met Calvino
The Brothers Quay on DVD

Weekend links 478

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Poster by Tadanori Yokoo for The Trip (1967).

• Post of the week is this long-overdue introduction by Warren Hatter to the French rock and electronic music of the 1970s and 80s, a variety of Continental culture which has never commanded the same level of interest in the Anglophone world as its German equivalent. The music made in Germany in the 1970s became popular in Britain thanks to record labels UA and Virgin, and support from enthusiasts like John Peel, but the label “Krautrock” demonstrates how even a favourable form could be promoted in a manner not much better than a tabloid slur. French underground music, as Hatter notes, was never recognised enough to be explicitly labelled although the term “Eurorock” was common for a while in the UK music press, useful for avoiding the slurs while also ignoring national boundaries. Now that German music of the period has been thoroughly explored, resurrected and plundered, more attention may be given to the musicians across la Manche.

Related: Eurock, the long-running distributor/publisher/website/podcast; David Elliott’s Neumusik fanzine, 1979–82; Richard Pinhas: Electronique Guerilla – A Profile by Tony Mitchell; and (linked here before) a Discogs list, French Underground Rock—1967/1980.

• More music: The Flower Called Nowhere, a previously unreleased instrumental version by Stereolab, and Midsummer’s Queen by Meadowsilver.

• Hard Time for the Hardcore: Nick Pinkerton on the pleasure of long feature films, and a decent article once you’re past the stupid sub-heading.

• Coming soon from Strange Attractor Press: Bass, Mids, Tops, An Oral History of Sound System Culture by Joe Muggs & Brian David Stevens.

Anthony Quinn reviews It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track, Ian Penman’s collection of music essays.

Bajo el Sigo de Libra on the art of Touko Valio Laaksonen, better known as Tom of Finland.

• Territory of Dreams: Becca Rothfeld on the world of Bruno Schulz.

• Mix of the week: XLR8R Podcast 601 by Sa Pa.

• RIP Richard Williams, master animator.

A trailer for The Trip. RIP Peter Fonda.

The Trip (1966) by Donovan | Trippin’ Out (1967) by Something Wild | The Trip (1968) by Park Avenue Playground

Weekend links 474

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AS11-40-5877 (1969).

• A minimum of Moon-related links this week because this is a subject I always return to. Previous links to NASA’s photo archives are now redundant after they changed their website but the archive of photos from the Apollo missions are currently hosted on Flickr…while Flickr lasts, anyway. The Albums section features whole film rolls from each of the missions.

• Mixes of the week: Stephen O’Malley presents In Session: Richard Pinhas (a re-posting of a mix from last year), and The Ivy-Strangled Path Vol. XVII by David Colohan.

• Living With The Human Machines: experimental artist Sarah Angliss speaks to Matthew Neale about the cyborgs, dummies and ghosts that populate her work.

• On And On And On: A Guide to Generative Electronic Music. Related: Deconstructing Brian Eno’s Music for Airports.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Jesse Bransford presents…A List of Grimoires for the Twilight of the Age of the Book.

A Dandy in Aspic exclusive: Paul Gallagher interviewed cult author Derek Marlowe in 1984.

• From Ted Hughes to HG Wells: Jeanette Winterson picks the best books about the Moon.

• Tate acquires vast archive of British surrealist Ithell Colquhoun.

• At Greydogtales: Ten supernatural stories which stay with you.

• Emptyset turn to machine learning on new album Blossoms.

• Paul Grimstad on the absolute originality of Georges Perec.

• Valerie Stivers on cooking with Bruno Schulz.

• Blown out ’77: in the studio with Suicide.

Astronauts on record covers.

Back Side Of The Moon (1991) by The Orb | Moonshot (1999) by Hallucinator | Under The Moon (2019) by Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois & Roger Eno

Weekend links 415

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The Creation of the Birds (1957) by Remedios Varo.

• “I think my music is very modern and very old. Together.” Sandy Robertson interviewed Popol Vuh’s Florian Fricke for Sounds in 1981. The Fricke-directed Sei Still Wisse ICH BIN referred to in the feature may be viewed here. Further Vuh-ing: Popol Vuh on Beat Club, 1971; a news clip of the group from the same year; a filmed improvisation from around the same time (Florian still had his Moog); and the group miming to recorded music from a year or two later.

• More Rammellzee (see last week): Gothic Futurism, a video collage based on Rammellzee’s treatise of the same name. Probably the only place you’ll ever see Rammellzee, the late Glenn Branca and art historian Kenneth Clark thrown together.

• After releasing 5 albums, Disjointed Oddities And Other Such Things is the first EP of “odd strange electronics, psych, Radiophonics, drone and quirky folk” by Keith Seatman.

Alina Cohen on Remedios Varo, a Spanish Surrealist painter whose work has been receiving increased attention in recent years but whose life remains under-examined.

• More German music: “I grew up in total ruins”—Irmin Schmidt of Can on LSD, mourning and musical adventures.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 655 by Matthewdavid, and The Monday Is Okay mix by JQ.

Olivia Laing, Sarah Wood and Philip Hoare discuss Modern Nature by Derek Jarman.

National Geographic has digitized its collection of 6,000+ vintage maps.

• At Bandcamp: The Transcendental Sound of Moroccan Gnawa Music.

Joe Fletcher on the nightmarish dream logic of Bruno Schulz.

Levi Stahl on the mind of Donald E. Westlake.

Affenstunde (1970) by Popol Vuh | Toy Planet (1981) by Irmin Schmidt & Bruno Spoerri | Adithaim (2005) by The Cracow Klezmer Band

Unmistaken Hands: Ex Voto F.H., a film by the Brothers Quay

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More from the Quays, and one of their most recent animated films. Unmistaken Hands: Ex Voto F.H. is a 25-minute piece made in 2013 for a commission from the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University. The film is subtitled Fragments and Motifs from the Writings of Felisberto Hernández, the “F.H.” of the title. Hernández was a Uruguayan writer whose fabulist fiction has been praised by Italo Calvino and Gabriel García Márquez, and as with the Quays’ films based on the work of Bruno Schulz and Robert Walser it probably helps to be acquainted with the source. In this case I’m not, although reading a description of Hernández’s Piano Stories—the only (?) collection in English—I ought to remedy that.

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The content may be South American but the Hernández’s fictional world is explored using the same accumulation of hints and allusions as in the films based on the work of European writers. The Quays’ recent shorts have favoured HD video and anamorphic distortion, and that’s the technique adopted here. I can’t fault their animation or their mise-en-scène but I keep hoping they might find a way to use video that has more of the grain and texture of their earlier films. I’m also hoping we might see these recent works gathered together in a disc collection in the near future. Unmistaken Hands: Ex Voto F.H. is a recent arrival at YouTube, and may not be there for long so watch it while you can.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Animation Magazine: The Brothers Quay
The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer, a film by the Brothers Quay
More Brothers Quay scarcities
Eurydice…She, So Beloved, a film by the Brothers Quay
Inventorium of Traces, a film by the Brothers Quay
Maska: Stanislaw Lem and the Brothers Quay
Stille Nacht V: Dog Door
Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets
Brothers Quay scarcities
Crossed destinies revisited
Crossed destinies: when the Quays met Calvino
The Brothers Quay on DVD