Weekend links 255

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The Owls by Carlo Farneti for a 1935 edition of Les Fleurs du Mal. Via Beautiful Century although the scans probably came originally from 50 Watts.

• “…a project that seemed under a curse comprising greed, peculiar French copyright laws, jealousies and grudges, bad judgment, complicated ownership disagreements, a messy estate, and a list of individuals who believed they had some legal, financial, moral, or artistic right to the film itself.” Josh Karp on the tangled history of The Other Side of the Wind, always the most interesting of Orson Welles’ unfinished feature films.

• Producer Conny Plank is remembered for his work with a host of German artists but he also recorded a session with Duke Ellington and His Orchestra in 1970. Grönland Records is releasing the session in July, and they’ve posted Afrique (take 3 vocal) as a taster.

• “And that’s what a lot of social media by authors is starting to look like, to feel like: being smacked in the face, repeatedly, by hundreds of fish.” Delilah S. Dawson wants authors to leave off the incessant self-promotion.

“In everybody, there is an inner bestiary,” she claimed, and her pictures are overrun with animals and animal-headed creatures; sometimes sinister, sometimes acting as guides to the unconscious, as in The Pomps of the Subsoil (1947). As her interests grew more hermetic her paintings abandoned all trace of the world beyond. If the figures occupy any sort of space it’s rarely more than the planes of a room in muted browns or greys, and in many the surface is overlaid with geometric patterns that seem to imply some mystical framework.

Alice Spawls on the art and life of Leonora Carrington

• “How a pro-domme, a Russian diplomat, US intelligence and Mary Tyler Moore’s landscaper conspired to create a dance classic.” Dave Tompkins on The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight.

• “Battersea, in fact, is a fairly simple climb, made ready by the builders who are destroying it.” Katherine Rundell on climbing Battersea Power Station at night.

• Mixes of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 148 by Mlada Fronta, and The Ivy-Strangled Path, Volume V, by David Colohan.

Erté illustrates a gay romance in Lytton Strachey’s Ermyntrude and Esmeralda (1913 but not published until 1969).

• Dangerous Minds looks back at “The most unusual magazine ever published”, Man, Myth & Magic.

David Chase on the writing, directing and editing of the final scene of The Sopranos.

Magic Man (1969) by Caravan | The Myth (1982) by Giorgio Moroder | Magick Power (1987) by Opal

German gear

Ralf and Florian, 1973. Back cover photo by Barbara Niemöller.

At that time, Kling Klang Studio was far from the technological hub it would become. “The studio was a big room in an old factory building with brick walls,” recalls [Wolfgang] Flür. “There were big home-made speakers, amplifiers and so on. Florian had his side, with his flutes and one of the very first ARP Odyssey synthesizers, while Ralf’s side had Hammond and Farfisa organs and a Minimoog synthesizer.”

Andy Gill, Mojo magazine, April 1997

Last week’s Autobahn post prompted a week of revisiting Kraftwerk’s three pre-Autobahn albums, all of which remain unreissued. The photo that fills out the back cover of the third album, Ralf & Florian (1973), has appeared here twice before so if you want an example of an obsession look no further. I only have a bootleg CD of this one, a package that doesn’t do much for the photograph so I went searching for a larger copy.

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The attractions, if you have to list them, are multiple: Ralf & Florian is Kraftwerk’s most human album, and the cover photos reflect this. Trans-Europe Express originally had pictures of the group on its sleeve (now replaced by the TEE train) but they were airbrushed, idealised portraits; the showroom-dummy personas they adopt there would turn into robots on the album that followed. There’s an overt sense of camp about the Ralf & Florian cover shots that runs counter to the tenor of rock music in 1973. The charts in Britain might have been filled with glam acts but for all their flirtatious androgyny they were selling the same assertive macho sexuality as the big rock bands of the time. One of the things I enjoy about this cover photo is its refusal to follow that crowd: the neon name signs, the standard lamp from a 1950s’ living room, Florian’s semiquaver brooch; all are effete enough to give Deep Purple the vapours. (The first UK release of Ralf and Florian replaced the cover photo of the pair with a printed circuit.) The closest comparison in the same year would be the sleeve for Brian Eno’s Here Come The Warm Jets with its shelves of dead flowers and junk-shop discoveries. But this wasn’t so surprising for an ex-member of Roxy Music, and the album is still very much a rock production.

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Then there’s the details: the egg-box soundproofing (Can used old mattresses to soundproof their studio); the enormous white speaker; the traffic cone that nods back to the sleeves of the first two albums and forward to the automotive theme of the next; Ralf’s white shoes (and is he wearing leather trousers?); Florian’s oscilloscope, his mysterious tone generators and that peculiar stringed instrument. This diverse range of gear somehow produced the music you’re listening to.

Continue reading “German gear”

Weekend links 139

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Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (2012) by Lesley Barnes. She also has peacock wrapping paper.

Big thanks to Dennis Cooper for including this blog in his favourite music, fiction, poetry, film, art & internet lists for 2012. Lots of good company there. One benefit of end-of-year lists is the way they suggest things to look for in January.

• “…the best pictures of dicks that I’ve ever seen…” Rudy Rucker reviews Malcolm McNeill’s The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here and Observed While Falling, out at last from Fantagraphics. Rucker notes that William Burroughs’ text is still only available in out-of-print editions in which case you’ll need a book dealer. Elsewhere, Burroughs: The Movie has cleared 50% of its restoration Kickstarter goal but still needs supporters.

• Julia Holter has been a recurrent presence in these posts since the release in March of her acclaimed second album, Ekstasis. FACT has an alternate version of the album’s opening song, Marienbad, one of the extra tracks on the recent UK reissue.

Suttree’s saga carried me down, down, down to the bottom of a heightened surrogate reality, a nadir where the rarest jewels of clarity are found. The fourth time through the novel I arrived at a state of barometric equipoise, a balancing between my mental state and Suttree’s. Then, as he descended again, I began to rise. There was a hypnotic poetry to his fall — his life disintegrated, then the fragments disintegrated, then those fragments followed suit ad infinitum.

Jim White on the life-preserving qualities of Suttree by Cormac McCarthy.

• “An 18-year-old boy who discovers he has a fetish for the aged gets a job in a nursing home and develops an intimate relationship with one particular old man.” Gerontophilia, a proposed film by Bruce LaBruce, is looking for funding.

• Can’t wait for this: Groenland Records announces Who’s That Man?, a four-CD set of music produced and performed by Conny Plank. FACT has a track list.

• At BUTT magazine: Pink Courtesy Phone Mix by Richard Chartier, a great selection of electronica old and new.

• Another end-of-year list: Volumes 1 & 2 of The Graphic Canon are in NPR’s Indie Bookseller best of 2012 selection.

The Nightmare Paintings: art by Aleister Crowley currently touring Australia.

• Christmas with Monte: Colin Fleming on the ghost stories of MR James.

• “The war on drugs is a war on human nature” says Lewis Lapham.

Alan Moore: why I turned my back on Hollywood.

• More electronica: Chris Carter discusses synths.

Saul Bass poster sketches for The Shining.

• At Pinterest: The Pan Within.

Ah Pook Is The Mayan God Of Death (1975) by William Burroughs | Panic (1985) by Coil | Light Shining Darkly (1992) by Coil.

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Heartsick (2011) by Kelly Durette.

• Now that Scott Walker’s Bish Bosch album is out and causing the usual consternation, the spotlight-shy singer/composer has been doing a surprising amount of promotional interviews. Simon Hattenstone talked to him for the Guardian at the end of last month; this week it was John Doran’s turn at The Quietus. One quote from the latter piece stood out in the light of this week’s posts: “…the music we’re making is meant to be an aural version of the HR Giger drawings for Alien. It always sounds to me like those look.”

Satanica is a limited-edition publication curated by Gio Black Peter & Christopher Stoddard “for anyone who rejects societal norms, for those dedicated to a life of pleasure, excess and self-reflection”.

• Sci-Fi-O-Rama has put five years’ worth of blog pictures onto Pinterest. I don’t really need to do that, there’s already a diverse crowd of Pinterest users compiling their own selection of things posted here.

As Susan Sontag once observed, pornography is practical. It was designed as a marital aid, and its vocabulary should follow natural biological rhythms and stick with hot-button words in order to produce a predictable climax. It is not about sex but is sex. Whereas the great sex writers (Harold Brodkey, DH Lawrence, Robert Gluck, David Plante, the Australian Frank Moorhouse) have a quirky, phenomenological, realistic approach to sex. They are doing what the Russian formalists said was the secret of all good fiction – making the familiar strange, writing from the Martian’s point of view.

Edmund White on writing about sex in fiction

• When pirate DVDs of films by Cocteau, Bresson and Pasolini are on sale in a Mexican market, life in the 21st century increasingly resembles a William Gibson novel. Joanne McNeil investigates.

• Copies of City Fun, Manchester’s premier music fanzine/alt culture mag (founded 1978), can now be read online at the Manchester District Music Archive.

• Linked everywhere during the past few days, the astonishing map of bomb hits on London during the Blitz (October 1940 to June 1941).

• At 50 Watts: 30 Vintage Magazine Covers from Japan and Alfred Kubin’s illustrations for Lesabéndio: An Asteroid Novel (1913) by Paul Scheerbart.

• Earlier this year for Frieze Magazine Geeta Dayal talked to musical collaborators of the great German producer Conny Plank.

Invisible Ink by Christopher Fowler, “the extraordinary stories of over one hundred forgotten authors”.

Cynthia Carr talks about Fire in the Belly, her biography of American artist David Wojnarowicz.

• “Blasphemy, Filth, And Nonsense” More Aleister Crowley ephemera at Front Free Endpaper.

• At Strange Flowers: Surrealist art by Jindrich Heisler (1914–1953).

Vladimir Nabokov wrote to Alfred Hitchcock in 1964.

• Scott Walker’s four tracks from the Nite Flights album (1978): Shutout | Fat Mama Kick | Nite Flights | The Electrician.

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Self-portrait by Jon Jacobsen from his Home series.

Steven Arnold: Cabinet of Curiosities is “a retrospective exhibition of this groundbreaking yet under-recognized queer artist at the ONE Archives Gallery & Museum in West Hollywood. The exhibition celebrates Arnold’s radical imagination, presenting many of his tableaux vivant photographs alongside never before exhibited drawings, sketchbooks, paintings and original poster art. In conjunction with the exhibition, ONE will screen Arnold’s four films, including Luminous Procuress (1970), which featured The Cockettes and was lauded by Salvador Dalí.” The exhibition runs to  January 12, 2013.

• “The boundary-pushing techno/sound design duo Emptyset will transform London’s cavernous industrial space Ambika P3 into an immersive sound installation for one night only—and here’s how they’re going to do it”.

• “At one time he was a well-known figure in Montparnasse, where he had a reputation as a master of the occult sciences.” Aleister Crowley is interviewed about his expulsion from France in 1929.

Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness… No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded… [T]hey forbid our premature closing of accounts with reality.

William James (1842–1910) quoted in What Should We Do With Our Visions of Heaven—and Hell? by John Horgan at Scientific American.

Screws is an album of piano music by Nils Frahm that’s currently available as a free download (inc. aiffs).

• At Pinterest: Art Visonnaire. Related: Ain’t We Got Fun: The magical surrealism of Jen Ray.

Rowan Somerville “challenges the purpose and legitimacy” of the Bad Sex Awards.

Jimmy’s End: the website for the film by Alan Moore & Mitch Jenkins.

Douglas Rushkoff in conversation with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge.

• Linda Rodriguez McRobbie explores The History of Boredom.

• Recreating the sounds of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

Alchemical Emblems, Occult Diagrams, and Memory Arts.

Rocaille: A Blog about Decadence, Kitsch and Godliness.

• A new video for Goddess Eyes II by Julia Holter.

• The complete audio recordings of Jean Cocteau.

The Rumpus interview with Russ Kick.

Forgotten Bookmarks

• RIP Spain Rodriguez

Astradyne (1980) by Ultravox (produced by Conny Plank) | Biomutanten (1981) by Les Vampyrettes (Conny Plank & Holger Czukay) | Never Gonna Cry Again (1981) by Eurythmics (feat. Holger Czukay, produced by Conny Plank).