Weekend links 470

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A rail station in ruins by Tokyo Genso. From a series of views of Tokyo showing a ruined and abandoned city.

• Old music technology of the week: The EKO ComputeRhythm, a programmable drum machine from 1972 used by Chris Franke (who didn’t like the sounds so he used it to trigger other instruments), Manuel Göttsching (the rhythms on New Age Of Earth), and Jean-Michel Jarre (on Equinoxe); and Yuri Suzuki‘s digital reconstruction of Raymond Scott’s Electronium.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…Ishmael Reed Mumbo Jumbo (1972), and DC’s favourite fiction, poetry, non-fiction, film, art, and internet of the year so far. Thanks again for the link here!

• “Pauline told her to shove her shyckle up her khyber.” Philip Hensher on the origins and revival of Polari, the secret gay argot. Related: a Polari word list, plus other links.

In Star, Mishima fuses his major theme of the mask, the public role all humans are destined to play out, with the theme of suicide, an act which Mishima considered a work of art. All of his work is punctuated by suicide, and it is peopled with masks, with people knowing they are nothing but masks, who are aware that the center doesn’t hold because there is no center, that character is a flowing fixture, a paradoxical constancy and a definite variable, always.

Jan Wilm on Star, a novella by Yukio Mishima receiving its first publication in English

• “How have these places managed to transform from monuments to atrocity and resistance into concrete clickbait?” Owen Hatherley on the popularity of spomeniks.

• The late George Craig on translating the scrawl of Samuel Beckett’s letters (written in French) into coherent English.

• Outsider Literature, Part 1: a Wormwoodiana guide by RB Russell.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 291 by Arturas Bumsteinas.

Symbiose, a split album by Prana Crafter and Tarotplane.

Robby Müller’s Polaroids

Apollo 11 in Real-time

Tokyo Shyness Boy (1976) by Haruomi Hosono | Tokyo (1979) by Jean-Claude Eloy | Tokyosaka Train (2002) by Funki Porcini

A mix for Halloween: Teatro Grottesco

Teatro Grottesco by Feuilleton on Mixcloud

Presenting the tenth Halloween playlist, and another mix of my own. This year the compilation honours the recent Penguin collection of stories by Thomas Ligotti, hence the title and dedication. Whether a Ligotti theme can be perceived in the arrangement depends on the familiarity of the listener with Ligotti’s brand of weird fiction, but even if the mix communicates little in this direction having something to aim for helped me narrow the focus. The presence of David Lynch-related pieces is justified by Ligotti’s inclusion in a collection of fiction inspired by Lynch’s films.

As to some of the other selections: French composer Igor Wakhévitch is a {feuilleton} favourite whose orchestral works are unique, bizarre and often disturbing; Jean-Claude Eloy is another French composer who (like Tod Dockstader) has used electronics to create doom-laden dronescapes; and the piece by Sinoia Caves is an extract from the nightmarish bad-trip sequence in Beyond the Black Rainbow, a film directed by Panos Cosmatos.

Recent changes at Mixcloud mean that listeners can no longer see a tracklist before playback so here’s the detail:

Alan R. Splet, David Lynch, Ann KroeberTextured Night Wind Gently Rises And Falls (2000)
Igor WakhévitchErgon (1970)
CoilCardinal Points (1988)
Tod DockstaderMyst (2005)
Julee CruiseInto The Night (1989)
Jean-Claude EloyFushike-e (1er Extrait) (1979)
Mica LeviLonely Void (2014)
Stars Of The LidTaphead (1996)
Belbury PolyA Thin Place (2005)
Einstürzende NeubautenArmenia (1983)
Igor WakhévitchAmenthi (Attente De La Seconde Mort) (1973)
Sinoia Caves1966 – Let The New Age Of Enlightenment Begin (2014)
Angelo BadalamentiDark Mood Woods/The Red Room (2007)
Bohren & Der Club Of GoreThe Art Of Coffins (2002)

Previously on { feuilleton }
A mix for Halloween: Unheimlich Manoeuvres
A mix for Halloween: Ectoplasm Forming
A playlist for Halloween: Hauntology
A playlist for Halloween: Orchestral and electro-acoustic
A playlist for Halloween: Drones and atmospheres
A playlist for Halloween: Voodoo!
Dead on the Dancefloor
Another playlist for Halloween
A playlist for Halloween

Creel Pone

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One of the many surprises for me about Enter the Void was finding recordings by electronic composer Jean-Claude Eloy mixed into its droning soundscape, notably extracts from his 1979 album, Shànti. I’d been listening to this a week or so before watching the film after having downloaded a large quantity of obscure electronic releases on the bootleg Creel Pone label.

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Flowers Of Evil (1969) by Ruth White.

The Creel Pone project by Keith Fullerton Whitman began with the intention of reissuing in a limited form 100 albums of electronic or electro-acoustic music dating from the period 1947 to 1983 (or 1952 to 1984 according to the label seal); The Analogue Age, in other words. Most of the albums were long out-of-print, and few had ever been available on CD when the project began although some have since had official reissues. The recordings were transferred from vinyl then burned to 50 CD-Rs per album, each release coming in a CD-sized facsimile of the original cover. Simon Reynolds wrote a piece about the label for The Wire in 2010 but I first encountered the releases a couple of years earlier via an acquaintance who was one of the collectors trying to accumulate the entire run. That run finished some time ago so the reissues themselves will soon be as difficult to find as the releases they made available, hence the recourse to mp3, and this cache of almost the entire catalogue. I haven’t listened to everything there yet (iTunes tells me that would take 2.2 days, non-stop)—and I find my patience often runs out with tape-collage electro-acoustic compositions unless I’m in the mood—but some of these albums are so good, the Thomas Köner-like Shànti among them, you have to wonder why they were overlooked for so long. A few of the uploads have tracks missing, and they’re all variable quality, but you won’t find this amount of Creel Pone material anywhere else in a hurry. (There’s also no guarantee they’ll be there for long so don’t complain to me if you’re visiting this post after they’ve all been deleted.)

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Musique Pour Le Futur (1970) by Nino Nardini.

Discogs.com has an incomplete catalogue listing. Several of Jean-Claude Eloy’s albums are now available on CD. Gil Mellé’s excellent soundtrack for The Andromeda Strain was given a limited CD release two years ago but is out-of-print again. For some recordings it seems, the struggle to reach an audience is a continual one.

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The Andromeda Strain: Original Electronic Soundtrack (1971) by Gil Mellé.

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Pythagoron (1977) by Pythagoron™

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Reflecting On The First Watch, We Uncover Treasure Buried For The Blind (1978) by Cellutron & The Invisible.

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Shànti (1979) by Jean-Claude Eloy.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Enter the Void
Cristalophonics: searching for the Cocteau sound
The Avant Garde Project

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”