Weekend links 525

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Polish poster by Franciszek Starowieyski, 1970.

• Tony Richardson’s Mademoiselle (1966) is one of those cult films that’s more written about than seen, despite having Jeanne Moreau in the lead role as a sociopathic schoolteacher, together with a screenplay by Marguerite Duras and Jean Genet, plus uncredited script-doctoring by David Rudkin. John Waters listed the film as a “guilty pleasure” in Crackpot but it’s been unavailable on disc for over a decade. The BFI will be releasing a restored print on blu-ray in September.

“While the hurdy-gurdy’s capacity to fill space with its unrelenting multi-tonal dirge is for some the absolute sonic dream, for others it is the stuff of nightmares.” Jennifer Lucy Allan on the pleasures and pains of a medieval musical instrument.

• “I truly believed”: Vicki Pollack of the San Francisco Diggers talking to Jay Babcock for the fifth installment of Jay’s verbal history of the hippie anarchists.

• “If you want to call yourself a composer, you follow every step of the instrumentation.” Ennio Morricone talking to Guido Bonsaver in 2006.

Dutchsteammachine converts jerky 12fps film from the NASA archive to 24fps. Here’s the Apollo 14 lunar mission: landing, EVA and liftoff.

• New music: Suddenly the World Had Dropped Away by David Toop; Skeleton and Unclean Spirit by John Carpenter; An Ascent by Scanner.

Peter Hujar’s illicit photographs of New York’s cruising utopia. Not to be confused with Alvin Batrop‘s photos of gay New York.

• Mixes of the week: XLR8R Podcast 651 by Dave Harrington, and Mr.K’s Side 1, Track 1’s #1 by radioShirley & Mr.K.

Simon Reynolds on the many electronic surprises to be found in the Smithsonian Folkways music archive.

The Gone Away by Belbury Poly will be the next release on the Ghost Box label.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Ed Emshwiller Day.

Shirley Collins’ favourite music.

Mademoiselle Mabry (1969) by Miles Davis | Hurdy Gurdy Man (1970) by Eartha Kitt | Danger Cruising (1979) by Pyrolator

Weekend links 481

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L’Hamestoque (1977) by Christine Gaussot.

• Another announcement from Strange Attractor Press: Of Mud & Flame
A Penda’s Fen Sourcebook
edited by Matthew Harle and James Machin will be published at the end of October. Among the contents will be the screenplay of David Rudkin’s cult television play, an item that’s always been impossible to find in print.

• A trailer for Journey to the Beginning of Time (1955), another semi-animated fantasy film by Karel Zeman which will released on disc next month by Second Run.

• “There was craziness in getting lost and dizzy.” Stereolab choose favourite songs from their back catalogue.

E=MC² (1976), an album of spacey jazz-electronica by Teddy Lasry which has never been reissued.

• “Why do so many book covers look the same? Blame Getty Images,” says Cory Matteson.

• Mix of the week: The Ephemeral Man’s Teapot by The Ephemeral Man.

Masataka Nakano has been photographing a deserted Tokyo for almost 30 years.

• Beyond the bounds of depravity: an oral history of David Cronenberg’s Crash.

Woodblocks in Wonderland: The Japanese Fairy Tale Series.

• A new novel by M. John Harrison is always a good thing.

Hamid Drake‘s favourite music.

Warm Leatherette (1980) by Grace Jones | Crash (1980) by Tuxedomoon | A Crash At Every Speed (1994) by Disco Inferno

Echoes And Reverberations

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Echoes And Reverberations, the latest themed collection of music presented by A Year In The Country, has a title that might refer to the Hauntological idiom in general. Not so much nostalgia, more the refashioning of memories, or imagined remembrances of the past, into something new.

Echoes And Reverberations is a field recording-based mapping of real and imaginary film and television locations.

It is in part an exploration of their fictional counterparts’ themes; from apocalyptic tales to never-were documentaries and phantasmagorical government-commissioned instructional films via stories of conflicting mystical forces of the past and present, scientific experiments gone wrong and unleashed on the world, the discovery of buried ancient objects and the reawakening of their malignant alien influence, progressive struggles in a world of hidebound rural tradition and the once optimism of post-war new town modernism.

Track list:
1) Grey Frequency—King Penda
2) Pulselovers—The Edge Of The Cloud
3) Dom Cooper—What Has Been Uncovered Is Evil
4) Listening Center—From Bull Island To Avondale
5) Howlround—Smashing
6) A Year In The Country—Not A Playground
7) Sproatly Smith—Gone Away
8) Field Lines Cartographer—Mr Scarecrow
9) Depatterning—The Ogham Stones
10) The Heartwood Institute—Ribble Head Viaduct

Using field recordings as a basis for music or sound art is as old as musique concrète, but the processes of Pierre Schaeffer and his followers were cumbersome and limited, and the results were invariably placed in the frame of Serious Music. The limitations of the approach can be seen in how quickly this avenue of exploration ran its course. It’s taken the flexibility and widespread use of digital sound tools to revitalise a moribund form to a degree that an acclaimed TV series like Chernobyl can use field recordings for a score (by Hildur Gudnadóttir) that matched the power of the on-screen drama.

The first piece in Echoes And Reverberations, King Penda, immediately caught my attention for the reference to David Rudkin’s Penda’s Fen, another TV drama with notable sound design by Paddy Kingsland of the Radiophonic Workshop. I thought the industrial thuds and clangs summoned by Grey Frequency might be taken from the scene where Stephen and his mother travel into Birmingham, but the release notes reveal that the sound source is the church where Stephen plays the organ, and in a later scene experiences a different kind of summoning. Whatever the source, the suggestion of menace suits a film whose transcendent message has to rise through an atmosphere of oppressive malevolence.

The Radiophonic Workshop is the ghost at this particular feast, unsurprisingly when the majority of the pieces are based on film and TV dramas from the Workshop’s golden decade, the 1970s: Flambards (The Edge Of The Cloud by Pulselovers, a beautiful piece of solo violin and piano with birdsong accompaniment); Survivors (Gone Away, a brittle instrumental by Sproatly Smith); and No Blade of Grass (Ribble Head Viaduct by The Heartwood Institute, a lumbering theme for one of the many angry and violent apocalypse films of the 70s). Of the other pieces Dom Cooper’s What Has Been Uncovered Is Evil takes the Hammer film of Quatermass and the Pit as its focus, creating a soundscape of sinister electronics in a nod to Tristram Carey’s Martian soundtrack, while the equally sinister electronics of Field Lines Cartographer’s Mr Scarecrow follows Stephen Gallagher’s gene-splicing thriller, Chimera, to the rain-drenched Lake District. The shadows of disaster lying over this release feel uncomfortably timely when the past week in Britain saw a heatwave like something from The Day the Earth Caught Fire, while this week we’ve had a village evacuated after torrential rains have threatened a dam with collapse, and an announcement from China about “hybrid chimeras“.

Echoes And Reverberations will be released on 16th August, and is available for pre-order now.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Watchers
The Corn Mother
The Quietened Mechanisms
The Shildam Hall Tapes
Audio Albion
A Year In The Country: the book
All The Merry Year Round
The Quietened Cosmologists
Undercurrents
From The Furthest Signals
The Restless Field
The Marks Upon The Land
The Forest / The Wald
The Quietened Bunker
Fractures

Weekend links 329

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Josef Vyletal borrows figures from Aubrey Beardsley’s Salomé for a Czech poster promoting The Immortal Story (1969) by Orson Welles. Vyletal’s own paintings were often strange and surreal.

Pale Fire is Nabokov’s “great gay comic novel,” says Edmund White. A surprising but not inappropriate reappraisal. White has noted in the past that Nabokov “hated homosexuality” despite having a gay brother and uncle. The portrayal of Charles Kinbote in Pale Fire isn’t unsympathetic if you overlook his being delusional, and possibly insane…

• At Folk Horror Revival: details of the charity donations raised by sales of the Folk Horror Revival books, the first of which featured my David Rudkin essay. A one-day Folk Horror Revival event takes place later this month at the British Museum, London.

• Mixes of the week: The Bug presents Killing Sound Chapter 2: Inner Space, a 2-hour blend of “sci-fi scores, expansive atmospheres and synthesized psychedelia”; Decoded Sundays presents Scanner; Secret Thirteen Mix 197 is by LXV.

Stars Of The Lid unveil a James Plotkin remix of their Music For Twin Peaks Episode #30 Pt. 1. Related: the hype for the new Twin Peaks series gets into gear with a teaser.

• Robert Aickman’s only novel, The Late Breakfasters (1964), is being given its first US publication by Valancourt Books.

• “Don’t dream it, bet it.” Evan J. Peterson on 40 years of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

• Anna von Hausswolff’s sister, Maria, directs a video for Come Wander With Me / Deliverance.

• RIP Michael O’Pray, film writer and curator of many festivals of experimental cinema.

• Oli Warwick talks to electronic musicians about the influence of the late Don Buchla.

Breakfast In Bed (1969) by Dusty Springfield | Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast (1970) by Pink Floyd | Another Breakfast With You (2001) by Ladytron

The Quietened Bunker

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Bunkers were a recurrent feature in the media of the 1980s, a consequence of increasing Cold War tensions following the election of Ronald Reagan and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The decade birthed new horrors of the body-mutating variety, and also reanimated some older ones in the figure of the knife-wielding psychopath, but the omnipresent spectre of nuclear war posed a threat not only to characters in films and TV serials but to the audiences who watched them. That threat manifests most strikingly in the middle of the decade with the TV film Threads (1984), the TV serial Edge of Darkness (1985), and the comic-book serial/graphic novel Watchmen (1986–87). To these you could add feature films such as WarGames (1983) and James Cameron’s The Terminator (1984) and its sequel. Not all of these works feature bunkers but nuclear warfare by its very nature implies the existence of subterranean control centres with all their latent mythological resonances. Some of those resonances are played with in David Rudkin’s Penda’s Fen (1974) and Artemis 81 (1981), the latter featuring an extended sequence in a sinister subterranean complex. Troy Kennedy Martin’s superb nuclear thriller, Edge of Darkness, runs the gamut of underground enclaves, from labyrinthine cave systems and abandoned nuclear shelters to a dusty Cold War command centre with a telephone link to Downing Street.

Bunkers of the abandoned variety provide the theme for the latest compilation album from A Year In The Country:

The Quietened Bunker is an exploration of the abandoned and/or decommissioned Cold War installations which lie under the land and that would have acted as selectively populated refuges/control centres if the button was ever pushed; a study and reflection on these chimeric bulwarks and the faded but still present memory of associated Cold War dread, of which they are stalwart, mouldering symbols.

Track list:
1) Lower Level Clock Room – Keith Seatman
2) Drakelow Tunnels – Grey Frequency
3) The Filter’s Gone / The Last Man Plays The Last Piano – A Year In The Country
4) Aggregates II – Panabrite
5) Bunker 4: Decommissioned – Polypores
6) Comms: Seen Through The Grey – Listening Center
7) Crafty Mechanics – Time Attendant
8) Crush Depth – Unknown Heretic
9) Waiting For The Blazing Skies – David Colohan

This is another quality collection in distinctive black-and-white packaging that will be of immediate interest to anyone who enjoys the releases on the Ghost Box label (Listening Center are already Ghost Box artists): spectral pianos, shortwave radios, ambient chords. The bunker theme connects to shared concerns among related artists with the old Civil Defence films, samples of which have been used on releases by The Advisory Circle and Mordant Music. The Cold War bunker is more than another empty space, it joins the bio-weapons lab (see The Satan Bug) as a source of contemporary horror that doesn’t require any supernatural component to chill the blood.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Fractures