Weekend links 161

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My friend James Marriott died last year. He was 39. His final book, The Descent, a study of Neil Marshall’s acclaimed horror film, is launched on Friday at the Cube Microplex in Bristol. The book is published by Auteur, a UK imprint, in their Devil’s Advocates series. James was finishing the book a year ago this month, and sent me a late draft for comments. In addition to examining Marshall’s film in detail he also looks at its sequel and explores the micro-genre of cavern-oriented horror. When it came to literature James preferred Robert Aickman and Thomas Ligotti; he enjoyed their cinematic equivalents too but he also had a great appetite for horror films of any description, and would happily wade through hours of giallo trash in the hope of finding something worthwhile. I miss our long, digressive email exchanges, and the opportunity they afforded to swap new discoveries.

• “For artists not working in digital media — those who cut, build, draw, paint, glue, bend, and make things in the more traditional manner — there is something of a ‘Surrealist’ popularity at hand today,” says John Foster.

• At Open Culture: Duke Ellington’s Symphony in Black starring a 19-year-old Billie Holiday, and Nina Simone performs six songs on The Sound of Soul (1968).

• I’m not remotely interested in Baz Luhrman’s latest but I do like the Art Deco graphics and logos created by Like Minded Studio for The Great Gatsby.

Alejandro Jodorowsky: “I am not mad. I am trying to heal my soul”

• The Clang of the Yankee Reaper: Van Dyke Parks interviewed.

• A 45-minute horror soundtrack mix by Spencer Hickman.

• At But Does It Float: Album art by Robert Beatty.

Topological Marvel: The Klein Bottle in Art

Anne Billson on The Art of the Voiceover.

Soviet board-games, 1920–1938

A Brief History of Robot Birds

Le Chemin De La Descente (1970) by Cameleon | Descent Into New York (1981) by John Carpenter | The Descent (1985) by Helios Creed

Weekend links 29

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A Folies Bergère dancer, c. 1909.

Six Novels in Woodcuts: The Library of America publishes a boxed set of Lynd Ward’s works: Gods’ Man, Madman’s Drum, Wild Pilgrimage, Prelude to a Million Years, Song Without Words and Vertigo.

• RIP ace graphic designer Raymond Hawkey. Related: Raymond Hawkey: An eye for detail, and Hawkey’s James Bond cover designs from the mid-60s.

The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl, an exhibition at Duke University, North Carolina, features work by 41 artists from around the world, from the 1960s to the present, using vinyl records as subject or medium.

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The Île de la Cité, a steel engraving by Albert Decaris (1950).

Fred Tomaselli will have a new exhibition of his work at the Brooklyn Museum next month.

Socialist Monuments in Bulgaria photographed by Linda Ferrari.

• What would Howard think of the Mythos Art Dildo?

Space is Process, a film about Olafur Eliasson.

Thurston Moore’s Indie Books.

Chris Colfer in a leather bar.

Ephemeral New York.

• Chrome! Helios Creed’s YouTube channel.

Chrome: Perfumed Metal

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Chrome: Firebomb single (1982).

I seem to have spent the past twenty-five years introducing people to Chrome. The world remains stubbornly resistant to their splendour, so here we go again…

Chrome were a San Francisco rock band born in the mid-Seventies, primary members Damon Edge and Helios Creed, ostensibly part of the punk thing but their sound is most aptly characterised by shorthand descriptions such as “Cabaret Voltaire meets Amon Düül II”. A newspaper ad for their Blood On The Moon album bore the legend “New Perfumed Metal”, and Perfumed Metal (the name of a track from Blood On The Moon) is how I tend to think of their blend of chugging riffs, synth squall, distorted vocals and tape collage. Those diverse and contradictory characteristics—perfume, metal—were embodied in the name of their record label, Siren, which encapsulates in a single word reference to erotic mythology and industrial noise. Chrome are/were a difficult band to categorise and describe, so I’m fortunate that Julian Cope has risen to the challenge already with this great potted history and a look at their finest musical moments. Cope’s site also features a lengthy appraisal by another reviewer of their unhinged masterpiece, Half Machine Lip Moves.

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Chrome’s covers were almost all the work of Damon Edge, usually collages with titles hand-scrawled in Edge’s angular script. The Firebomb single above (also the cover art of the 3rd From The Sun album) became the band’s defining image, a lion-head door-knocker transformed into some bug-eyed alien organism by the simple addition of a pair of oversize eyes. Their second album was titled Alien Soundtracks so this is entirely appropriate. As Julian Cope puts it in his usual inimitable style:

So the vibe created is definitely very Sci-Fi, but no gleaming clean surfaces from Beyond The Year 2000 here. It’s a bit like in the original “Alien” movie (also from 1979 coincidentally), where the technology is “advanced” but the space ships are dank & dirty and all the equipment keeps breaking down. Science will not only bring forth smiling nuclear families with robot maids flying around in hover cars, but also ever-more-crowded metropolitan slums and squalor and new designer chemicals to help stave off (or feed?) dread and paranoia. To borrow a term coined nearly a decade later, Chrome’s is a “CYBER-PUNK” vision of the future.

The vision didn’t last for long but then most bands have a golden period of four or five years which is then dissipated in personnel splits or changes in musical direction. Chrome’s golden period ran from 1978 to 1982; longer than most and definitely worthy of your attention.

Official website
Damon Edge | Helios Creed
• Chrome on YouTube: Meet You In The Subway (1979) | New Age (1980)

Select discography:
Alien Soundtracks (1978)
Half Machine Lip Moves (1979)
Subterranean Modern (1979) (compilation album with other artists)
Read Only Memory (1979) 12″ EP
Red Exposure (1980)
Blood on the Moon (1981)
3rd from the Sun (1982)
No Humans Allowed (1982)
The Chronicles I (1982)
The Chronicles II (1982)

Previously on { feuilleton }
Barney Bubbles: artist and designer
Metabolist: Goatmanauts, Drömm-heads and the Zuehl Axis
Maximum heaviosity