Ralph Steadman record covers

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Informal Jazz (1956) by Elmo Hope Sextet.

Yesterday’s post made me realise I’d never looked to see how many album covers Ralph Steadman might have designed or illustrated. A quick delve into Discogs revealed the following haul, a couple of which I own on CD. Steadman has worked in a wide range of media but I didn’t know his album work went back into the 1950s. The style of the early sleeves is markedly different to the angry, splattery creations that made his name, and without a signature you’d be unlikely to recognise the artist.

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Conception (1956) by Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz, Sonny Rollins, Zoot Sims.

Artists known for their work outside the music world tend to have pre-existing art used on record sleeves but Steadman is unusual in creating so much cover art afresh. In light of this I’ve omitted the CD insert for a dramatisation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas which repeats the drawing familiar from many of the paperback editions.

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4 Altos (1957) by Phil Woods, Gene Quill, Sahib Shihab, Hal Stein.

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Back Country Suite For Piano, Bass And Drums (1959) by Mose Allison.

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Weekend links 262

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You’ll Never Be Alone, Even In Death (2014) by Stacey Rozich.

• “But the CD-R format, which eventually replaced the mix tape, turned out to be a technological letdown. ‘CD-Rs are just such an unstable format,’ Margolis says. ‘When you made 10 cassettes, the 10 cassettes generally played. If you made 10 CD-Rs, 8 of them played and 2 of ’em skipped. So that partially explains why people are going back to cassettes—it’s a cheap format that actually works.'” A huge article by Lisa Hix on the history and resilience of cassette tapes.

• “The word speculative comes from speculum, or mirror, and with speculative music the goal is to mirror the hidden processes of nature in sound.” David Metcalfe on Hawthonn, Coil and imaginal landscapes.

• Mixes of the week: FACT Mix 498 by The Cyclist, and Adventures In Sound And Music 28 May 2015 compiled by Joseph Stannard.

Nabokov was an intimate writer. His reticences, his formal estrangements, his denial of interest in any reality beyond the text all need to be measured against that. Maximum closeness: not the closeness of ostentatious empathy but the closeness of one mind addressing another in the most thrilling terms. He speaks into the ear, sometimes dripping a little poison. He contrives to have a reader identify intimately with a protagonist or narrator, but even that is not enough; the reader receives secret handshakes from the author himself, behind a narrator’s back.

Michael Dirda quoting from Nabokov in America by Robert Roper

• Books old and new: The Encyclopedia of the Dead by Danilo Kis, and Stranger Days by Rachel Kendall.

• At Dangerous Minds: Il caso Valdemar (1936), a short Italian adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe story.

Lustpiel is “a new online magazine for gay, lustful literature”. And a fair amount of art and porn.

• “Q: Is there any subject that is never acceptable to joke about?” No, says Curtis Brown.

Machines Are Obsolete, a new piece by Pye Corner Audio for the Ghost Box label.

• Ishbelle Bee (see yesterday’s post) is interviewed at SFFWorld and Book Swoon.

Laura June on the life of Djuna Barnes, stunt reporter and shocking modernist.

• Stream the debut LP from Ghost Harmonic, a new John Foxx project.

• Portraits of the BDSM community by Natasha Gornik.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder: 10 essential films

Loplop

Mirrorball (2009) by John Foxx & Robin Guthrie | Mirror (2012) by Emptyset | Mirrored (2013) by Silje Nes

Kupka in Cocorico

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As noted yesterday, Czech artist František Kupka produced a cover for French magazine Cocorico together with this handful of interior illustrations, all of which date from around 1900. Kupka was living in Paris at the time, and several of these drawings reflect his connections to the Symbolist movement. I’ve posted his Poe illustration before but everything else here is new to me. The most striking piece is Terre de Songe (Land of Dreams) which illustrates a text piece with the same title. Kupka aficionados will recognise this as a variation on a print he made in 1903, Resistance, or The Black Idol, a drawing which today seems to be his most popular (or most visible) work. I’ve wondered a few times whether a tiny speck visible in The Black Idol was meant to be a human figure, something which Terre de Songe confirms. A fantastic drawing in all senses of the word.

The four pictures which follow Terre de Songe are less impressive, a series of double-page satirical drawings whose obscure meaning isn’t helped by their being folded into the centre of the magazine. They’re included here for the sake of completeness.

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Magic.

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The Conqueror Worm (after Edgar Allan Poe).

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Land of Dreams.

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Harry Clarke’s Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault

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After posting John Austen’s Perrault illustrations I intended to follow-up with other versions but work has been non-stop lately so it’s taken most of this month to do so. Harry Clarke’s edition of Perrault was published in 1922, and while it’s not exactly unfamiliar its one of his illustrated editions that gets overshadowed by the grotesque masterpieces of Faust and Edgar Allan Poe. This is Clarke employing his most delicate Beardsley-like style, the only hint of anything unwholesome being the animated black pudding that fixes itself to a woman’s nose in The Ridiculous Wishes. Bluebeard, by contrast, seems a delightful fellow despite his unfortunate wife-killing propensities.

I’ve only included the colour plates here but the copy at the Internet Archive contains many full-page black-and-white drawings along with vignettes. The plate showing Cinderella and the Prince has been stolen from their edition so I’ve added a scan from my own copy of the book.

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Weekend links 246

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Love Hunter by Victo Ngai.

• “The strangeness of the lyric style, the misuse of words and awkward phraseology that have been criticized even by Poe’s fervent admirers, are here taken as virtues, heightening as they do, a given poem’s conscious and calculated formalism.” Marjorie Perloff reviews The Poet Edgar Allan Poe: Alien Angel by Jerome McGann.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix by Jeremy Kolosine. Starting with Michael Rother is apt when I’ve spent the past week in a Cluster/Harmonia/Kraftwerk/La Düsseldorf/Neu!/Rother loop.

• Court records “suggest that the supposedly prudish Victorians had a far more relaxed attitude to sex between men than their 1960s counterparts”. Historian Jeff Evans has the data.

• “Part of HP Lovecraft’s acknowledged debt to Machen also lies in hearing without seeing.” London Sound Survey on Arthur Machen’s “sounds from beyond the veil”.

• “…pity the designer who has to enact the stage direction that instructs rats to carry away a character’s feet.” Andrew Dickson on the extreme theatre of Sarah Kane.

• Psychedelic collage artist Wilfried Sätty receives a mention in Carey Dunne‘s piece about how LSD helped shape California’s ecstatic design legacy.

• More psychedelia: The Psychedelic Sex Book by Eric Gotland & Paul Krassner, edited by Dian Hanson.

• At Dangerous Minds: Robert Fripp demonstrates Frippertronics on The Midnight Special, 1979.

• Dreams from a Glass House: artist Josiah McElheny on the glass architecture of Paul Scheerbart.

• Director Peter Strickland on six films that fed into The Duke of Burgundy.

Vintage trade card designs

The Zero Of The Signified (1980) by Robert Fripp | Heptaparaparshinokh (1981) by Robert Fripp & The League of Gentlemen | 1984 (1981) by Robert Fripp