Weekend links 567

dean-osibisa.jpg

Cover art by Roger Dean for Woyaya (1971), the second album by Osibisa. Dean’s flying elephants made their first appearance on the group’s debut album, and have been an Osibisa emblem ever since.

• Many of Roger Dean’s early album covers are better creations than the music on the albums they decorate. This isn’t the case with Osibisa, however, a Ghanaian group based in London whose discography includes (uniquely, I think) two covers by Dean together with one by Mati Klarwein. The group’s first two albums, Osibisa and Woyaya, are exceptional blends of Ghanaian music with rock, funk and jazz whose omission from the generally reliable Kozmigroov list is a serious error. Garth Cartwright talked to Teddy Osei and Lord Eric Sugumugu about Osibisa past and present.

• “The antiheroes of Angry Young Men cinema railed against the limited life opportunities available to them. Wired and frustrated, they especially chafed against girlfriends, wives, domesticity. Yet they never questioned heterosexuality itself. Not, at least, until The Leather Boys (1964), a relatively little-known film directed by Canadian expatriate Sidney J. Furie.” Sukhdev Sandhu on a film about gay life in pre-decriminalisation Britain that offered a slightly more positive view of its subject than the justifiably angst-ridden Victim (1961).

• “Brian Aldiss once confided to me that the big problem with American science fiction writers was that they loved to write about Mars but knew nothing about Indonesia.” Bruce Sterling on the attractions of being an expatriate writer who adopts a foreign persona, as he did for the stories collected in Robot Artists and Black Swans.

• New music: Fire Tower by The Grid / Fripp. Dave Ball, Richard Norris and Robert Fripp have been collaborating on and off since The Grid’s 456 album in 1992. Fire Tower is a preview of Leviathan, a new album out in June on CD/DVD and double vinyl.

• RIP Michael Collins, the astronaut who orbited the Moon alone, listening to Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz in the Command Module of Apollo 11 while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were walking on the satellite’s surface.

• “‘Walking with a thesis’ could easily function as the subtitle for a significant number of Iain Sinclair’s books.” Tobias Carroll on Iain Sinclair and the radical act of walking through a city.

• “‘Plain speaking, like plain food, is a puritan virtue and thus no virtue at all,’ Meades pronounces.” Steven Poole reviews Pedro and Ricky Come Again by Jonathan Meades.

• Building a panorama: Clive Hicks-Jenkins‘ latest progress report on his Cocteau-inspired illustrated edition of Beauty and the Beast.

• At Unquiet Things: Groovy Goddesses From Dimension X: Gene Szafrans’ Kaleidoscopic Book Covers.

• From leather boys to leather men: Miss Rosen on the little-known photography of Tom of Finland.

Alexis Petridis attempts the impossible again, with a list of Grace Jones’ best songs.

• At Dennis Cooper‘s: Cars.

I’m A Leather Boy (1967) by The Leather Boy | Warm Leatherette (1980) by Grace Jones | Leather Bound (2017) by Patrick Cowley

Weekend links 459

akira.jpg

• “Their graves were covered with cement tiles to block the radiation emanating from their corpses.” Sophie Pinkham reviews three books about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

• At Dangerous Minds: Julius Eastman: The resurrection of the visionary minimalist composer continues; at The Quietus: The Strange World of Julius Eastman.

• Mixes of the week: a Dune-inspired Secret Thirteen Mix 286 by Coeden, and ’94–95 Mirrorverse by The Ephemeral Man.

Nabokov had meanwhile acquired a literary agent in New York. She made no headway placing translations of his Russian novels. His latest, she informed him, was “dazzlingly brilliant” and hence wholly without promise for the American market. She suggested something more topical, an idea that left her client hyperventilating. “Nothing,” he would roar later, “bores me more than political novels and the literature of social unrest.” He was, he enlightened his representative, neither Sinclair Lewis nor Upton Sinclair. (Ultimately he tossed the two over the cliff together, as “Upton Lewis.”) Weeks later, in the bathroom of a Paris studio apartment, he began — “a champion figure skater switching to roller skates,” as he complained, speaking for whole cadres of displaced professionals — to write in English.

Stacy Schiff on Vladimir Nabokov, literary refugee

Iain Sinclair on Ghosts of a Ghost: William Burroughs, time surgery and the death of the image.

ST Joshi remembers Lovecraftian writer Wilum Pugmire (RIP).

The Conspirators: A Borgean Tribute to Jorge Luis Borges.

Jasper Sharp on where to begin with Japanese cyberpunk.

Greg Anderson on the new Sunn O))) album, Life Metal.

Drew Daniel of Matmos picks his Bandcamp favourites.

• The Kraken surfaces for Clive Hicks-Jenkins.

• An interview with Brian Eno by Suite (212).

Apocalypse Now: Final Cut

The Book of Weirdo

Conspiracy Of Silence (1994) by Cypher 7 | The Vodun Conspiracy (1996) by The Sidewinder | Machine Conspiracy (2010) by Conforce

Weekend links 443

gorey.jpg

• Yet more Gorey: Mark Dery’s biography of the artist prompted The New Yorker to unearth a piece of cover art that Edward Gorey submitted 25 years ago. In the same magazine Joan Acocella reviews Dery’s book and examines Gorey’s life and art. At Expanding Mind, Erik Davis talks with Mark Dery about Surrealism, the gay voice, Penny Dreadfuls, and the occult and Taoist influences in Gorey’s work.

Moving Through Old Daylight: Mark Fisher, Jim Jupp & Julian House of Ghost Box Recordings, and Iain Sinclair in conversation at the Roundhouse, Camden, London, 5 June 2010. Topics under discussion included Nigel Kneale, TC Lethbridge, John Foxx, BBC Radiophonic Workshop, alchemies of sound, the homogenisation of culture, imagining space and the impersistence of memory.

• “A radical retelling of our relationship with the cosmos, reinventing the history of astronomy as a new form of astrological calendar.” The Space Oracle by Ken Hollings.

There was a deliberate, almost prickly quality to Fisher’s writing and thinking that is rare nowadays, when criticism is more likely to involve open-minded rationalizing than steadfast refusal. He was not one to frolic in ambiguity or irony. “Just because something is current doesn’t mean it is new,” he writes in K-Punk, as he wonders if a time traveller from the nineties would find any contemporary music as radical as post-punk or jungle had once seemed to him. When everything is cheerfully “retro,” Fisher argued, we lose our grasp on history—and, without a sense of why the past happened the way it did, our anything-goes embrace of “happy hybridities” is an empty gesture. “What pop lacks now is the capacity for nihilation, for producing new potentials through the negation of what already exists,” he writes.

Hua Hsu on Mark Fisher’s K-Punk

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine on The Wind Protect You (1946), a novel by Pat Murphy which Mark describes as a forgotten precursor of Watership Down.

• “At once tiny and huge: what is this feeling we call ‘sublime’?” Sandra Shapshay explores the Romantic aesthetic.

Dennis Cooper‘s favourite fiction, poetry, non-fiction, film, art, and internet of 2018. Thanks again for the link here!

• Mixes of the week: XLR8R Podcast 572 by Nastia, and FACT Mix 683 by Casino Versus Japan.

A Child’s Voice (1978) by David Thomson, an overlooked ghost story starring TP McKenna.

• Jean Cocteau’s Orphée returns from the underworld via BFI blu-ray next month.

Rated SAVX: The Savage Pencil Scratchbook

Orpheus (1967) by The Walker Brothers | Orpheus (1987) by David Sylvian | Overture To Orpheus (2003) by Colin Booth

Weekend links 439

sadismo.jpg

Cammell & Roeg’s Performance (1970) was marketed in Italy with all the restraint for which the Italian film industry has long been celebrated.

• “To the good men I offer the hand of friendship, to the foes of our sex I offer resistance and annihilation!” We Women Have no Fatherland (1899), a novel by Ilse Frapan, is the latest title from Rixdorf Editions.

• More Edward Gorey: Mark Derey discusses his biography on the Virtual Memories Show podcast. Related: Edward Gorey’s Calling Cards, a spoiler-heavy investigation.

• “It starts how most horror films end, and it just keeps building and building, crescendo on crescendo…” Ben Cobb on the original (and, for me, only) Suspiria.

• The next compilation release from the excellent Light In The Attic label will be Kankyo Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980–1990.

Saint Flournoy Lobos-Logos and the Eastern Europe Fetus Taxing Japan Brides in West Coast Places Sucking Alabama Air (1970) is a short film by Will Hindle.

• Film producer Sandy Lieberson and author Jay Glennie on Donald Cammell & Nicolas Roeg’s Performance.

• “Wes Anderson‘s offbeat debut as a curator drove a storied museum’s staff crazy. The results are enchanting.”

Above Water, Inside, a video by James Ginzburg from his recent album, Six Correlations.

• For the LRB Podcast: Iain Sinclair and Patrick Wright discuss living with buildings.

• Not necessarily the best ambient and space music of 2018: a list by Dave Maier.

• “The net is not a good guide to book prices,” says Mark Valentine.

David Bennun on 30 years of the Pet Shop Boys’ Introspective.

• Mix of the week: XLR8R Podcast 568 by Young Marco.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Chris Marker Day.

Introspection Pt. 1 (1969) by The End | Introspection (1984) by Minimal Compact | Intro-Spectiv (1996) by Chris & Cosey

Weekend links 438

awazu.jpg

Seishu Hanaoka’s Wife (1970) by Awazu Kiyoshi.

Hoodoo, Conjuration, Witchcraft & Rootwork: a colossal new addition to the Internet Archive, being a 5-volume, 4766-page collection of folkloric material gathered by Harry Middleton Hyatt in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia between 1936 and 1940.

• Edward Gorey is the theme du jour, so here’s some more: Gorey’s 1977 appearance on The Dick Cavett Show is revelatory, especially if you’ve never seen him talking before. Meanwhile, Laughing Squid has a previously unpublished interview in which Gorey discusses his love for his disruptive cats.

• Jeff Nuttall’s mid-century survey of the aesthetic underground, Bomb Culture, receives a fiftieth anniversary republication by Strange Attractor. The new edition is edited by Douglas Field and Jay Jeff Jones, with a foreword by Iain Sinclair and an afterword by Maria Fusco.

I have always questioned identity politics with my work. I often have characters that engage in homosexual sex but do not identify as gay (hustlers, neo-Nazi skinheads, extreme left wing revolutionaries, gerontophiles, etc.). But my films have also always been inclusive in terms of race, class, and gender. I find that the new emphasis on identity politics has really narrowed creative expression. It demonstrates a profound ignorance about sexuality, history, and human experience.

My sexual identity is pretty much fixed—I’m a Kinsey 6, if not a 7—but I acknowledge that this means I’m sexually repressed. I believe, after Freud, that everyone has some bisexual potential, and the tendency to increasingly entrench gender identity as innate and immutable is really preposterous. It also leads to strict rules about sexual representation—how gays, lesbians and transgender people “must” be portrayed, the policing of representation, a kind of proprietary stance about who is allowed to portray these characters.

It really boils down to a naivety about sexuality, and a complete failure of the imagination. It discourages people who may have the potential for some kind of sexual fluidity to express themselves. I’ve always been a “bad gay,” but now this political correctness has made me feel even more alienated from the notion of “gay identity”—particularly since the new assimilationist model is so conservative and dull.

Filmmaker Bruce LaBruce discussing art, porn and politics with Hoçâ Cové Mbede

• “Who is Barbara Baranowska? Despite the so-called Polish Poster School’s fame, certain people were seemingly forgotten. Perhaps they even wanted it that way…” Daniel Bird on an elusive artist. Related: Selected works by Barbara Baranowska.

• “I don’t think I’m ever mean-spirited and I try to understand human behaviour even though it’s impossible,” says John Waters.

Nine Dimensional Synod Of Oblique Pleasures is a very welcome new release by The Wyrding Module.

Galerie Dennis Cooper presents…The Resplendent Illegibility of Extreme Metal Logos.

Apocalypse Burlesque — Tales of Doomsday Eros: a new book by Supervert.

Rare booksellers rallied against an Amazon-owned company and won.

B. Alexandra Szerlip on the 80-year history of the ballpoint pen.

Anjelica Huston: how we made The Addams Family.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 270 by Okkre.

The Cabinet of the Quay Brothers

Hoodoo Man Blues (1965) by Junior Wells’ Chicago Blues Band | Evil Hoodoo (1966) by The Seeds | I Been Hoodood (1973) by Dr John