Weekend links 467

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Artwork by Kuldar Leement (maybe…I’ve yet to see a credit for this).

In Search Of Hades: The Virgin Recordings 1973–1979, is a retrospective box set comprising 16 CDs and 2 blu-ray discs devoted to the first phase of Tangerine Dream’s output on the Virgin label. For enthusiasts of the group’s Virgin recordings (myself among them) this is very welcome, especially for the albums being given the Steven Wilson remix treatment, and the wealth of rare and unreleased material. In addition to several live concerts the box will include the complete Oedipus Tyrannus theatre soundtrack, the overture of which appeared on a compilation in 1975 but has since been unavailable outside bootlegs. Baroque 2 is a taster of the unheard soundtrack. The box itself will be released on 14th June. Related: Edgar Froese interviewed on a US radio station in 1974. Among the topics of discussion are German music of the time, Tangerine Dream’s dissatisfaction with Ohr Records, and their happiness at moving to Virgin.

• “As the witch-burning begins, the image gradually dissolves into a stroboscopic onslaught of neon colours accompanied by rapid, high-pitched ringing and a thundering drone.” Don’t come to Gaspar Noé for social realism. Lux Aeterna is his new thing.

• An ode to the ultimate camp film: Nathalie Atkinson on Boom!, Joseph Losey’s adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play, and (unsurprisingly) one of John Waters’ favourites.

“Adhesive,” a term borrowed from phrenology, was Whitman’s synonym for homosexuality. According to gay studies pioneer William A. Percy, “the term became part of the special vocabulary of the emerging homosexual subculture of the nineteenth century,” which Whitman and his coterie would have understood. Despite Whitman’s private vows to resist temptation, and to be more aloof, he continued to court young men until he died. One of the final photos of Whitman, taken at the Camden docks in 1890, shows the poet with his handsome male nurse Warren Fritzinger. “I like to look at him—he is health to look at: young, strong, lithe,” Whitman told Traubel.

Jeremy Lybarger on Walt Whitman’s boys

Psychedelic Promos & Radio Spots: 8 volumes, over 500 tracks, all free downloads. Hear many of the most popular groups of the late 60s shilling for commercial radio stations.

Hildur Gudnadóttir used only sounds from a nuclear plant in her score for Chernobyl.

• US museums of the week: Poster House, NYC, and The Moogseum, Asheville, NC.

• “Yes, witches are real,” says Pam Grossman, “I know because I am one.”

• Photos by Chas Gerretsen from the set of Apocalypse Now.

• Geeta Dayal on the brainwave music of David Rosenboom.

• Mix of the week: Self-Titled NE285 Mix by Kevin Martin.

• RIP Roky Erickson

Boom Boom (1961) by John Lee Hooker | Boom Stix (1962) by Curley & The Jades | Boom! (1992) by The Grid

Weekend links 451

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Manifold (2015), a painting by Samantha Keely Smith which will appear in April on the cover of Life Metal, a new album by Sunn O))).

• At Expanding Mind: Professor and queer historian Heather Lukes talks with Erik Davis about Silver Lake riots, gay bikers, house ball scenes, the nostalgia for repression, and the joys and challenges of working on the online archive The Grit and Glamour of Queer LA Subculture.

A Stroke of Ingenious: Chatting Fear and Fantasy with Darius Hinks.  Also this week, Darius Hinks’ The Ingenious (for which I created the cover art) was featured in a Barnes & Noble list of seven attractive (if hazardous) fantastic cities.

• “From the late ’60s and through the ’70s broadcasters invested in home-grown kids’ television, and much of it was decidedly weird.” Paul Walsh on the vanished, thought-provoking strangeness of British TV.

That late surrealism still needs rescuing by curators and critics is perhaps not a sign of its defeat but of the breadth and pervasiveness of its triumph. Could we have Pablo Picasso or Jackson Pollock without surrealism? What about David Lynch, JG Ballard or Angela Carter? As an influence, it’s easy to give [Dorothy Tanning] a crucial place in the canon of feminist art. Louise Bourgeois was born just a year later than Tanning but only started to sew after Tanning had exhibited her first sculptures.

Lara Fiegel on the weird, wild world of Dorothea Tanning

After its own death / Walking in a spiral towards the house by Nivhek, a new album from Liz Harris (Grouper) “recorded using Mellotron, guitar, field recordings, tapes, and broken FX pedals”.

• At Dangerous Minds: Michael Rother (Neu!/Harmonia) on the forthcoming reissue of his solo albums from the 1970s.

Clesse by Clesse, another pseudonymous musical project by Jon Brooks (The Advisory Council et al).

• After Dark: The art of life at night—and in new lights by Francine Prose.

Elena Lazic on where to begin with Gaspar Noé.

• Mix of the week: Headlands by David Colohan.

Steven Heller‘s confessions of a letterhead.

• RIP Albert Finney.

• Void (2009) by Monolake | Void (2013) by Emptyset | Void (2014) by The Bug feat. Liz Harris

Weekend links 295

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Untitled (2014) by Lola Dupré. Via.

Announcement of the week (if not the month/year) is the news that the BFI will be releasing all of the BBC dramas directed by Alan Clarke on DVD/Blu-ray in May. In addition to the long-awaited appearance on disc of Penda’s Fen (1974) we can expect a previously unseen director’s cut of Clarke’s last TV film, The Firm (1989), the DVD premier of Baal (1982) with David Bowie, plus many other works including some from the 1960s that were believed lost. (And it should be noted that this isn’t everything of Clarke’s; he also worked occasionally for ITV and later directed feature films for Channel 4.)

The BFI attention is a tribute to an exceptional director that’s overdue. Clarke has long been a cult figure among the British actors who worked with him, and among directors such as Harmony Korine and Gaspar Noé, but the tendency of TV to give one-off dramas a single screening has meant that much of his best work has been unavailable for years outside old VHS tapes. Clarke is important for having persistently chosen difficult subjects which he directed with a flair and intensity usually only found in cinema. When he died in 1990 the BBC repeated a handful of his films but the only ones given repeated DVD release have been the violent dramas with the big names attached: Scum (1979, with Ray Winstone), Made in Britain (1982, with Tim Roth), and The Firm (with Gary Oldman). Clarke’s oeuvre is much more than a parade of nihilistic villains, as will become evident later this year.

• A psychedelic video directed by Peter Strickland for Liquid Gate (ft. Bradford Cox) by Cavern of Anti-Matter. The debut album from Cavern of Anti-Matter, Void Beats/Invocation Trex, will be out later this month.

Celebrating Dusseldorf, the city that birthed Krautrock. (Article loses points for not mentioning producer Conny Plank.)

All Rivette’s features might be regarded as different kinds of horror films; Céline et Julie vont en bateau is his first horror comedy. The anxiety and despair of Paris Nous Appartient and La Religieuse, L’Amour Fou and Spectre seem relatively absent, yet they perpetually hover just beyond the edges of the frames. We still have no privileged base of ‘reality’ to set against the fictions, each of which is as outrageous as the other; and along with Borges, we can’t really say whether it’s a man dreaming he’s a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he’s a man—although we may feel, in either case, that he and we are just on the verge of waking.

Jonathan Rosenbaum on work and play in the house of fiction: Jacques Rivette’s Out 1 and Céline and Julie Go Boating

• Mixes of the week: Finders Keepers Radio Show Krautrock Special, and The Ivy-Strangled Path Vol. XV by David Colohan.

• At Dangerous Minds: Super strange sculptures (by Shary Boyle) only the dark and demented could love.

• Beautiful Brutalites: S. Elizabeth questions Arabella Proffer about her paintings.

KTL is a musical collaboration between Peter Rehberg and Stephen O’Malley.

• Why study art when you can make it? The strange world of…This Heat.

Sarah Galo on the explicitly sexual female artists that feminism forgot.

Irmin Schmidt‘s favourite music (this week).

• LSD: My life-saving drug by Eric Perry.

The Occult Activity Book

Twenty Tiny Cities

Der LSD-Marsch (1970) by Guru Guru | Krautrock (1973) by Faust | Düsseldorf (1976) by La Düsseldorf

42 One Dream Rush

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A 45-minute omnibus film from 2009 in which Abel Ferrara, Arden Wohl, Asia Argento, Brian Butler, Carlos Reygadas, Charles Burnett, Charlyn Marshall, Chris Graham, Chris Milk, David Lynch, Dee Poon, Floria Sigismondi, Florian Habicht, Gaspar Noé, Grant Morrison, Griffin Marcus, Harmony Korine, James Franco, Joe Coleman, Jonas Mekas, Jonathan Caouette, Kenneth Anger, Larry Clark, Leos Carax, Lola Schnabel, Lou Ye, Matt Pyke, Michele Civetta, Mike Figgis, Mote Sinabel, Niki Caro, Rajan Mehta, Rinko Kikuchi, Ryan McGinley, Sean Lennon, Tadanobu Asano, Taika Waititi, Terence Koh, Yung Chang, Zachary Croitoroo and Zhang Yuang each direct a 42-second film on the subject of dreams.

A couple of these have done the rounds before but this is the first time I’ve seen the complete set. The dream theme is loosely interpreted, with entries that range from real or imagined nightmares and Lynchian weirdness (Lynch’s own piece is as strange as you’d expect), to ambitions and daydreams. Given the collection of directors it’s no surprise to find sexuality and mortality as recurrent sub-themes. Not all of it works but you only have to wait 42 seconds for something new to arrive. Watch it here.

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Enter the Void

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It’s taken me a while to see this but the long search for a genuinely psychedelic feature film is over. That’s genuinely psychedelic not in the debased sense of a handful of garish or trippy visuals, but in the full-spectrum expanded-consciousness sense for which Humphrey Osmond invented the term in 1956:

I have tried to find an appropriate name for the agents [psilocybin, mescaline, LSD, etc] under discussion: a name that will include the concepts of enriching the mind and enlarging the vision. My choice, because it is clear, euphonious, and uncontaminated by other associations, is psychedelic, mind-manifesting.

Other films have given us flashes of this kind of unfiltered experience—Chas’s mushroom trip in Performance (1970), for example—or attempted to relay LSD states through Hollywood conventions: The Trip (1967) and Altered States (1980). Then there are inadvertently psychedelic moments such as the Star Gate sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Some of the most successful works from a psychedelic perspective have almost always been abstract, micro-budget films such as those made by James Whitney, Jordan Belson, Ira Cohen and others. But until very recently no one had attempted to combine the narrative-free intensity of abstract cinema with a film narrative that would warrant placing psychedelic experience at the heart of the story. I was hoping A Scanner Darkly (2006) might do it but, good as it was, it didn’t really get there. Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void is the film that gets everything right.

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Linda and Oscar.

The narrative is a simple one (Noé calls his story a “psychedelic melodrama”): Oscar, a young American drug-dealer living in Tokyo smokes DMT, trips out for a while then goes to exchange some goods with a customer in a small club called The Void. While there he’s shot and killed in a police raid. His disembodied consciousness leaves his body and for the next two hours wanders the streets and buildings following his beloved sister, Linda, and his friends while they cope with the aftermath. Later on he starts to re-experience memorable (and traumatic) moments from his life. The Big Signifying Text in all of this is introduced in the opening scene: The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Oscar hasn’t read much of it so his friend Alex quickly relates (for the benefit of the audience) how the book describes what happens to the soul between the moment of death and rebirth into a fresh human body. A few minutes later we’re with Oscar experiencing this very process in dizzying, miraculously-filmed detail. Flicking through my own copy of The Tibetan Book of the Dead (OUP, 1960) one paragraph in the introduction had particular relevance:

The deceased human being becomes the sole spectator of a marvellous panorama of hallucinatory visions; each seed of thought in his consciousness-content karmically revives; and he, like a wonder-struck child watching moving pictures cast upon a screen, looks on, unaware, unless previously an adept in yoga, of the non-reality of what he sees dawn and set.

WY Evans-Wentz

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This is your brain on drugs: the DMT trip.

Continue reading “Enter the Void”