Weekend links 99


From the Crystal Saga portfolio (1986) by Moebius. Via Quenched Consciousness.

Moebius: A while ago, [science fiction] was filled with monstrous rocket ships and planets; it was a naive and materialistic vision, which confused external space with internal space, which saw the future as an extrapolation of the present. It was a victim of an illusion of a technological sort, of a progression without stopping towards a consummation of energy. But we’ve completely changed that vision. It’s been a sharp, radical change, and somewhat brutal.
HM: Why brutal?
Moebius: Because all those beautiful projects we believed in are gone. But the real sense of science fiction is the discovery that the voyage is interior, and the real energy, the rockets of the past, is what is contained in people’s spirits.
HM: One doesn’t have to read other people’s visions then, one can make the discovery oneself?
Moebius: Well, that, and also the fact that the “new planet” of old science fiction is right here: it’s the Earth.

The Moebius Interview by Diana K. Bletter, Heavy Metal, August 1980.

RIP Jean Giraud, aka Moebius, one of the great artists of the 20th century. My approach to drawing comics was almost wholly derived from the illustrational style of the French, Belgian and other artists being published in Heavy Metal magazine in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Many of the stories were appearing in English for the first time, and for me they revitalised a medium in which (undergrounds aside) I’d lost all interest. It wasn’t only the exceptional artwork that was attractive. The narratives of Moebius, Druillet, Bilal and co. presented a more sophisticated approach to science fiction and fantasy than the simple-minded fare filling the superhero titles or the pages of 2000 AD. Moebius’s work was wittier, sexier and far more imaginative than any American comics I’d seen up to that time. Some of the stories read like graphic equivalents of New Worlds-era science fiction so it came as no surprise to find Moebius drawing a strip called The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius (the title was later amended at Moorcock’s request) while Druillet in his September 1980 Heavy Metal interview mentioned enjoying books by William Burroughs, Michael Moorcock and Thomas Disch, and singled-out Ballard’s Crash as a favourite novel. Without the examples of Druillet and Moebius (and the intoxicating inspiration of the October 1979 issue of Heavy Metal) I wouldn’t have spent 17 months adapting The Call of Cthulhu as a comic strip.

Hasko Baumann’s 2007 documentary, Moebius Redux: A Life in Pictures (some of which can be seen on YouTube) is a good place to start when trying to appraise Jean Giraud’s extensive career. The film is now available on DVD.

The hour-long cut of Moebius Redux has been posted to Vimeo
An obituary by Kim Thompson at The Comics Journal
The Moebius posts at But Does It Float


From Les Yeux du Chat (1978) by Jodorowsky & Moebius. Via Quenched Consciousness.

• “Naked Lunch,” Ballard wrote later, “was a grenade tossed into the sherry party of English fiction.” The criss-crossing careers of JG Ballard and William Burroughs are examined in detail at RealityStudio. Related: The Discipline of D.E. (1982) by Gus Van Sant and The Unlimited Dream Company (1983) by Sam Scoggins.

• Dr John’s forthcoming album, Locked Down, has been produced by The Black Keys‘ Dan Auerbach. Those of us who favour the Doctor’s voodoo-inflected early albums are hoping this might mean he gets groove back after wandering for years in an MOR swamp. One of the new recordings, Revolution, sounds promising.

I don’t think sexuality is fixed anymore. I think more from the gay male side than the lesbian side, there is often a wish for things to be fixed. I heard Lady Gaga’s Born This Way and I don’t know why they like it. Maybe, they need more certainty than girls do. For me, it’s like why do you care anyway? Maybe you were, maybe you weren’t. What’s the big deal? I can’t connect to that emotionally, so it baffles me.

Jeanette Winterson talks to Sassafras Lowrey.

• “In [Jacob’s Room], [Virginia] Woolf makes the subject matter not Jacob himself but the ways in which we know and don’t know each other – the gaps in our knowledge.” Alexandra Harris on Modernism in art and literature.

• The Northwest Film Forum in Seattle hosts Magick in Cinema on 5th April, an evening of occult-themed short films which includes a rare screening of Curtis Harrington’s Wormwood Star.

• John Bertram’s Lolita cover competition from 2009 is due to appear in June as a book-length study entitled Recovering Lolita. Bertram previews the contents here.

• “Erotic fiction is having a steamy renaissance and its hottest authors are women.”

LSD helps to treat alcoholism.

• The other Moebius (Dieter): News (1980) by Moebius & Plank | Tollkühn (1981) by Moebius & Plank | Conditionierer (1981) by Moebius & Plank.

A cluster of Cluster


Harmonia somewhere in the 1970s: Michael Rother, Dieter Moebius, Hans-Joachim Roedelius.

Continuing the occasional { feuilleton } series exploring the byways of musical culture, this month it’s the turn of German group Cluster, prompted by their current US tour. News of their re-emergence sent me back to the albums and I’ve been listening to little else for the past week or two.

cluster.jpgMark Pilkington has very conveniently saved me the trouble of summing up the wandering history of Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius in their various incarnations with his introductory piece, Cosmic Outriders: the music of Cluster & Harmonia. Unlike many of their Krautrock contemporaries, Moebius and Roedelius have remained very active, Roedelius particularly has an extensive solo discography. I’ve never been very taken with their work since the early Eighties, however. I have an inordinate fondness for the analogue keyboards which contribute to their early sound; as the Eighties progressed they took to using digital keyboards and their music lost much of its earlier charm as a result.

The Cluster discography is very long and confused, encompassing Kluster (pre-Cluster line-up with Conrad Schnitzler), Cluster, Harmonia (Cluster with Michael Rother from Neu!), Cluster with Brian Eno, then Moebius and Roedelius’s numerous solo works and collaborations with other artists. As a result, a guide such as this is useful for the curious. So here we go with another blog list…

ClusterCluster 71 (1971)
A timeless racket. Three long noisy slabs of synth distortion that make the first two noisy Kraftwerk albums seem positively melodic. This could easily be passed off as an unreleased Throbbing Gristle or Cabaret Voltaire album.

ClusterCluster II (1972)
The second album continues the granular challenge but lets some light and music into the mix.

HarmoniaDeluxe (1975)
I prefer the second Harmonia album to the first, and prefer both to Cluster’s third opus, Zuckerzeit, recorded around the same time as this. Michael Rother’s involvement in Harmonia pushes the sound very close to Neu! in places, especially the more melodic strains of Neu! 75.

HarmoniaHarmonia 76: Tracks & Traces (1976)
Albums of studio outtakes are usually for die-hard listeners only but this one is surprisingly good with an outstanding long atmospheric piece, Sometimes In Autumn. Brian Eno was hanging out with Cluster by this point and he contributes a vocal on Luneberg Heath.

ClusterSowiesoso (1976)
The most melodic and relaxed of all the Cluster albums and the one which birthed a host of inferior copyists on the Sky label.

Cluster & Eno (1977)
Recorded at around the same time as By This River on Eno’s Before And After Science. Holger Czukay from Can is a guest on the Eno albums.

Eno, Moebius & Roedelius—After The Heat (1978)
Of the two Cluster & Eno albums this is probably the best and ends with three Eno songs which turned out to be his last vocal works until Nerve Net in 1992. Note that the CD reissue has a different (and in my view, inferior) track ordering to the vinyl original.

ClusterGrosses Wasser (1979)
Produced by ex-Tangerine Dream member Peter Baumann and recorded at his studio which gave the Cluster guys the opportunity to use his superior synth equipment. As a result a couple of the tracks here are very similar to Baumann’s solo work.

Moebius & PlankRastakraut Pasta (1980)
This album and its follow-up should be added to the list of works which influenced Eno & Byrne’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. The opening track News, features sampled radio voices (as per later Eno & Byrne) mixed with a plodding rhythm that includes a recurrent synth note that’s the spit of similar sounds used on My Life.

Moebius & Plank—Material (1981)
Genius producer Conny Plank brought out the best in many of the artists he worked with and these two collaborations with Moebius are a great example of that. He had a similar effect with Roedelius on an early solo album, Durch die Wüste, moving Roedelius out of his ambient keyboards comfort zone. The tone on Material is more strident and uptempo than Rastakraut Pasta, especially on Tollkühn which is like some mad techno synth run ten years too early.

Cluster and co. on YouTube
Cluster 71
Harmonia—Deluxe (Immer Wieder)
Cluster & Eno—Für Luise
Brian Eno—By This River

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Avant Garde Project
White Noise: Electric Storms, Radiophonics and the Delian Mode
Chrome: Perfumed Metal
Metabolist: Goatmanauts, Drömm-heads and the Zuehl Axis
The music of Igor Wakhévitch
My Life in the Bush of Ghosts