Weekend links 425

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Art by Ichiro Tsuruta.

• “Writing is so much about subverting dogmatisms of all kinds, above all the ones that insist you cannot go there! You must not say that! Writers need to go anywhere, to take anything on. And the only rule is to do it well.” Rikki Ducornet in a feature at Dennis Cooper’s which has been linked here before but was previously on DC’s old (now deleted) blog.

• “This book-cover trend is turning bookstores into flower shops,” says Kenzie Bryant. “How publishing’s floral-print trend came to rule the world’s bookshelves.” (Where “the world” means the USA, as usual…)

• The third edition of Wyrd Daze—”The multimedia zine of speculative fiction + extra-ordinary music, art & writing”—is out now.

For this listener, Nardis has become a full-on musical obsession. I have more than ninety official and bootleg recordings of the tune stored in the cloud, ranked in a fluid and continually updated order of preference, so they follow me wherever I go. In my travels as a writer, I use Nardis as a litmus test of musical competence: if I see a jazz band in a bar or a busker taking requests, I inevitably suggest it. (If they’ve never heard of it, I understand that they must be new at this game.) By now I’ve heard so many different interpretations, in such a far-flung variety of settings, that a Platonic ideal of the melody resides in my mind untethered to any actual performance. It’s as if Nardis were always going on somewhere, with players dropping in and out of a musical conversation beyond space and time.

Steve Silberman on the obsession that he and pianist Bill Evans share with Nardis, a Miles Davis composition that Davis himself never recorded

• Mixes of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 263 by Jung An Tagen, and XLR8R Podcast 554 by Tutu.

• “René Magritte still has the power to surprise,” says Sophie Haigney.

Ishmael Reed at the Brockport Writers Forum, 1st May, 1974.

• The On-U Sound label is now at Bandcamp.

Brian Eno talks music, global politics, etc.

Faded Flowers (1985) by Shriekback | Other Flowers (2003) by Harold Budd | White Flowers (2014) by Lutine

Weekend links 409

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Poster for Steppenwolf (1974), a film directed by Fred Haines (his only one) based on the novel by Herman Hesse, and starring Max von Sydow and Dominique Sanda. No artist or designer credited.

• “…in her 20s, she heard two elderly folk singers and was struck by their ‘gentle dignity’. It cemented her own philosophy: ‘No dramatising a song, no selling it to an audience, no overdecorating in a way that was alien to English songs, and most of all, singing to people, not at them.'” Laura Snapes on Shirley Collins and her memoir, All in the Downs.

• Many of the BBC’s sound effects were available for years in necessarily small collections on vinyl, tape and CD. Now you can download over 16,000 of them for free here. The interface is still primitive so try typing some words into the search box to see what shows up.

Carl Swanson on Natalie Frank’s paintings based on Pauline Réage’s Story of O, and the problems these caused when she tried to exhibit them.

• Pictures of the Jazz Age: Regina Marler reviews three books about photographer Berenice Abbott.

• “The late Juraj Herz was a one-man wave of Czechoslovak horror,” says Kat Ellinger.

Mark Dery on William S. Burroughs and the dead-end horror of the Centipede God.

• Mixes of the week: FACT mix 648 by Laraaji, and XLR8R Podcast 538 by Fluxion.

Kashmir by Forming The Void, and Kazakhstan by Brian Eno.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Dominique Sanda Day.

PixaTool by Kronbits.

Born To Be Wild (1968) by Steppenwolf | Steppenwolf (1976) by Hawkwind | Der Steppenwolf (2015) by Selofan

HR Giger’s Passagen

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HR Giger’s art books were always very thorough in detailing all the media manifestations of the artist’s work, including film and television appearances. For years this presented tantalising questions, especially regarding the lengthy pre-Alien documentaries that were listed there: what were these films, and when would we get to see them? Giger’s Necronomicon (1976) did finally appear on YouTube a few years ago, and now here’s the second of the pair thanks to an upload of what appears to be a Japanese laserdisc.

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Passagen was made in 1972 by Giger’s friend Fredi M. Murer, their third film collaboration after Heimkiller and High (1967) and Swiss Made 2069 (1968). The latter (which Giger co-directed) is still frustratingly absent from the web, and similarly tantalising for being a 45-minute piece of underground science fiction which features Giger’s first production designs for cinema. Passagen was less ambitious, a 50-minute documentary about Giger’s work made for the German TV station, WDR. As a documentary it functions as a companion to Giger’s Necronomicon, while both films complement the subsequent art books, especially Giger’s Necronomicon (the book) which features many of the paintings seen in the films, together with anecdotes about their origins and inspiration. One of these anecdotes, about the nightmares induced in the young Hans Rudi by a stairway in the hotel next door to the Giger family home, is recounted in Passagen alongside the vertiginous drawings the nightmares inspired. It’s impossible to consider this piece of child psychology, and to watch the artist walking up and down stairs and stepladders, without recalling that Giger died after falling down a flight of stairs in 2014.

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Giger’s Necronomicon is the more interesting of the two documentaries, especially now that the life and work is so well known; the art is taken more for granted, and we also get to see Giger at work on one of his big airbrush paintings. Passagen spends much of its time attempting to contextualise Giger’s drawings and paintings for an unwitting television audience, so a great deal of the running time is given over to newsreel footage of wars, riots, terrorism, atomic explosions and so on. A geneticist discusses the effects of atomic mutation while Giger’s earliest series of pictures, Atomkinder, is shown; psychoanalysts examine his paintings from a psychosexual angle.

Of more interest for Giger aficionados is the presence of his partner at the time, Li Tobler, the subject of several memorable portraits from this period. Among the working shots, the best shows Giger improvising a drawing with the same speed as Philippe Druillet in the Ô Sidarta film. Giger only started using an airbrush in 1972 so most of the works seen here are either early drawings or the paintings in the Passagen and Alptraum series, the style and colouring of which is much closer to the art world of 1972 than anything which would follow. For me the greatest revelation comes early on when Giger picks out a record to play while he’s working. The disc he chooses is just identifiable as Universal Consciousness by Alice Coltrane, an album which had been released the year before. (This isn’t the music heard on the soundtrack, however.) Alice Coltrane’s brand of ecstatic, pan-religious jazz would seem remote from Giger’s own universe but the choice isn’t so surprising if you know that he’d been a jazz enthusiast since the 1950s; in The Book of Alien (1979) his list of influences includes HP Lovecraft, John Coltrane and Miles Davis.

As is evident from the screen grabs, the film is hard-coded throughout with Japanese subtitles. Unlike Giger’s Necronomicon there’s no English overdub either, the soundtrack is in German throughout. I can’t complain when I’ve been waiting so long to be able to see this at all. For those who watched the later film divided into four YouTube clips there’s now a complete version (also Japanese but with English overdub) here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Heimkiller and High
The Man Who Paints Monsters In The Night
Hans by Sibylle
HR Giger album covers
Giger’s Necronomicon
Dan O’Bannon, 1946–2009
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune
The monstrous tome

Weekend links 401

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TIME, June 21st 1968. Cover by Roy Lichtenstein.

• “Forget the democratic processes, the judicial system and the talent for organization that have long been the distinctive marks of the US. Forget, too, the affluence (vast, if still not general enough) and the fundamental respect for law by most Americans. Remember, instead, the Gun. That is how much of the world beyond its borders feels about the US today. All too widely, the country is regarded as a blood-drenched, continent-wide shooting range where toddlers blast off with real rifles, housewives pack pearl-handled revolvers, and political assassins stalk their victims at will.” The TIME magazine feature with the famous Roy Lichtenstein cover (prompted by the assassination of Robert Kennedy) will be fifty years old in June.

• “Where do we feel at home? What do our cities look like? How do we see? In 1908, architect and theorist August Endell set out to answer these deceptively simple questions.” Endell’s The Beauty of the Metropolis is coming from Rixdorf Editions in May.

Beardsley 120: The Death of Pierrot is a series of events in Aubrey Beardsley’s birthplace, Brighton, taking place throughout the month of March.

Like the Bloomsbury Group and the Beats, the Surrealists could be incestuous, choosing lovers from inside the circle and often remaining close to their exes. When [Max] Ernst and [Leonora] Carrington reached Paris, he introduced her to Leonor Fini, his friend and former lover. Tall, dazzling, and bejeweled, Fini cultivated a baroque theatricality; every day with her was a masked ball. Recognizing Carrington as “a revolutionary,” she claimed her as an astrological twin—a feat possible only because Fini lied about her age. “This chronological charade, combined with later cosmetic surgeries, sustained the image of youth and beauty that remained vital to Leonor’s self-image, the sexuality and her sense of her place in the world,” writes Chadwick:

Imperious and mercurial, she was also generous, loving and happy to share her rich intellectual life with the younger woman she considered her double. Like Leonora, she believed that cats possessed highly developed psychic powers, that horses had mythological powers that identified them with the feminine, and that painting was an alchemical process.

Regina Marler reviewing three new books about Leonora Carrington and the women artists of the Surrealist movement

As Serious As Your Life: Black Music and the Free Jazz Revolution, 1957–1977 by Val Wilmer receives a welcome republication next month.

• At Dangerous Minds: Occultism, cinema and architecture: How a ouija board built the Bradbury Building.

• When Books Read You, a Defence of Bibliomancy by Ed Simon.

• Ä Brïëf Hïstöry Öf Mëtäl Umläüts by Mike Rampton.

Joey Zone Illustration – Art from The joey Zone.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Brad Dourif Day.

Alva Noto‘s favourite albums.

Eddie Campbell, Dammit!

• Metropolis (1978) by Edgar Froese | Metropolis (1979) by Motörhead | Under The Gun (Metropolis Mix) (1993) by The Sisters Of Mercy

Weekend links 391

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Mass by Ron Mueck at the National Gallery of Victoria Triennial. Photo by Tom Ross.

• Thanks of the week: to In Wild Air for asking me to fill their list of six favourite things; to Hodderscape for including my cover for Jeannette Ng’s Under the Pendulum Sun among their choice of best book covers of the year; and to Dennis Cooper for listing this blog among his own end-of-year favourites. Ta, all!

• New/old music: The Quietus reissues, etc, of the year, new Pye Corner Audio, Soul Jazz presents Deutsche Elektronische Musik 3, and The Cleansing is a new album by Annabel (lee).

• Mixes of the week: Seeing The Forest For The Trees by Gregg Hermetech, FACT mix 631 by Zola Jesus, and Secret Thirteen Mix 240 by Restive Plaggona.

Were a normally sexed person to enter such an establishment, he might be puzzled to see so many finely dressed men sitting there with soldiers, though he would find nothing particularly offensive. The friendships between homosexuals and soldiers forged here over sausage, salad and beer frequently endure for the full term of service, and often longer. The soldier returns home, living as a married farmer far from his beloved Berlin garrison, but many a uranian still receives freshly killed quarry as a token of friendship. Sometimes these relationships are even passed on to younger brothers; I know one case where a homosexual had relations with three brothers one after the other, all of whom were with the Cuirassiers.

An extract from Berlin’s Third Sex by Magnus Hirschfeld, one of the new titles from Rixdorf Editions. Ostensibly straight soldiers supplementing their income by having sex with “uranians” was still a common thing decades later, as detailed in John Lehmann’s In The Purely Pagan Sense.

The Cremator (1968) a film by Juraz Herz, was reviewed on these pages a while ago. It’s now out on region-free blu-ray. Highly recommended.

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine on a map of old Dunwich, and Egypt in England.

Clive Hicks Jenkins on Mapping the Tale: image making and the narrative tradition.

Wyrd Daze returns with a free pdf, and a mix by The Ephemeral Man to download.

• At the BFI: Chris Gallant on where to begin with giallo cinema.

The Parisian Cabinet of Curiosities Loved by Wes Anderson.

Mass Production (1977) by Iggy Pop | Mass (1981) by Yellow Magic Orchestra | Mass Transit Railway (1997) by Monolake